Bluffton Town Council members received staff recommendations last week for how major upcoming projects should be prioritized.
Over the past year council and staff have been formulating a list of capital improvement projects for fiscal years 2020-24.
Many of the projects already are underway and will continue into that five-year window. Town staff and the planning commission organized the projects that have not been started into two groups: higher and lower priority.
Though a higher-priority label means a project has a more pressing start time, items in both categories are slated for completion.
â€śJust because itâ€™s (lower priority) doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™ll just go away,â€ť director of engineering Bryan McIlwee said.
The largest projects on the list include:
â€˘ Squire Pope Carriage House preservation (higher priority)
The town purchased the 169-year-old structure in 2017 in conjunction with Beaufort Countyâ€™s Rural and Critical Lands program. The town plans to start stabilizing and renovating the historic home this year and continue the project through 2021 at a total estimated cost of $705,000.
â€˘ Historic district sewer extension (higher priority)
The first and second phases of the sewer extension project are underway, the first taking place on Pritchard Street between Tabby Shell Road and the May River, the second on Bridge Street between the Wharf Street intersection and the end of the road.
Phase 3, scheduled for 2021, will be on Colcock Street between the Bridge Street intersection and the end of the road. The fourth phase, also planned for 2021, is on Lawrence Street between the Boundary Street intersection and Heyward Cove.
â€˘ Veterans Memorial at Buckwalter Place (higher priority)
A joint project between the town and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205, the memorial would be located in the northeast corner of a planned park within Buckwalter Place.
The monument will feature commemorative walls and columns with emblems of all military branches, three flag poles, a plaza and associated infrastructure. The project is planned for next year and will cost about $166,000.
â€˘ New Riverside Park (higher priority)
The town purchased the 37-acre property known for its large red barn late last year, citing the need for a publicly-owned park. The town plans to begin work next year and has budgeted $100,000.
â€śFuture improvements may include the renovation of the existing barn for a gathering and event space, expanded parking, perimeter trails,open fields to allow for larger community events, site furnishings, lighting, landscaping and safety cameras,â€ť the project data sheet states.
â€˘ Affordable housing (higher priority)
Town Council approved the purchase of a 1.8-acre tract at 1095 May River Rd. and a 0.7-acre tract at 184 Bluffton Rd. for the purpose of developing workforce and/or affordable Housing.
Projects would add more than a dozen housing units at a cost of 1.15 million from 2020-24.
â€˘ Town Hall improvements (higher priority)
Improvements include a staff courtyard and service yard fencing, solar shades throughout the building, and light poles at the north parking lot. Staff expects the estimated $75,420 project to begin in 2020.
â€˘ Ulmer Auditorium improvements (higher priority)
The town is planning upgrades for next year at the May River Theatre auditorium. Projects include updates to lighting and sound, replacing flooring, repainting walls, adding new ceiling grid and tile, and adding new doors. The estimated cost is $137,505.
â€˘ Technical College of the Lowcountry (higher priority)
Construction on the Culinary Institute of the South at the Technical College of the Lowcountry is set to begin in November 2019 with a planned opening of fall 2020 in Buckwalter Place.
The 26,000 square-foot facility will also be funded by Beaufort County and the Beaufort County School District. The town of Bluffton has budgeted $500,000 for the institute in 2020.
â€˘ Wharf Street lighting (higher priority)
This project, planned with safety in mind, involves the addition of decorative street lighting along Wharf Street. It could take place between 2020 and 2021 at a cost of $246,000.
â€˘ May River Road pocket park (lower priority)
A developer donated a small parcel of land outside the Stock Farm development in 2017 to be used as a pocket park. The town plans to begin construction in 2021 at an approximate cost of $170,000.
â€˘ Bridge Street streetscape (lower priority)
This project, planned for 2020-22, includes sidewalks, street lighting, crosswalks and safety improvements at an approximate cost of $736,000.
â€˘ Cove pedestrian bridges (lower priority)
Targeted for 2023, this project would re-establish historic skids across the saltwater coves in the historic district. The cost is estimated at $50,000.
â€śThis would re-create a cultural and historic resource, provide a pedestrian connection between neighborhoods, and allow the community access and views of the May River,â€ť the project data sheet states.
â€˘ Community safety cameras (lower priority)
This is a five-phase project with the first four already completed. The first four phases set up 83 cameras throughout Bluffton and officials say phase five will add a transmitter and switch upgrades, improving connection. Itâ€™s planned for 2020 at a cost of about $50,000.