The roundabout at Bluffton Parkway and S.C. 46 has gone from orange cones to concrete and grass, and Bluffton's Tree Committee wants to beautify the "gateway to Bluffton" even more.
Chairman Roberts Vaux presented a landscape design for the roundabout, including a live oak tree and other plantings, to Bluffton Town Council at its meeting Tuesday.
The roundabout is not within town limits -- Bluffton Parkway is owned by Beaufort County while S.C. 46 is owned by the state Department of Transportation. It was built as part of the SCDOT widening project of Bluffton Road from two to four lanes.
The Tree Committee received town council's blessing to seek a permit that would allow the town to take over landscaping and maintenance o the roundabout.
Vaux said the committee, made up of landscape architects, arborists and residents, designed the plan so Bluffton's "front door doesn't look like our back door."
Facilities director Tammy Malone said staff would assist the committee in negotiations with the county and state.
"(The committee) wanted something that would say 'Now you're in Bluffton,'" she said.
Vaux said the committee emphasized low-maintenance plants to keep costs down. Landscaping the roundabout would cost $16,000. Maintaining it would cost $7,500 annually.
Vaux suggested the funding could come from accommodations tax money. Because the money must be used or tourism related projects, it could not be used to maintain the roundabout each year, said finance director Shirley Freeman said.
However, she said she would look into whether the town could make one-time use of the funds for the landscaping.
Mayor Lisa Sulka said she liked the plan and encouraged Vaux to meet with master gardeners and local nurseries to seek donations of plants or labor.
Follow staff writer Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.