Beautification will take many hands

info@islandpacket.comMarch 14, 2013 

Beautification of the new Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort, in this file photo from November 2012, happened thanks to volunteer work from employees of The Greenery.

DELAYNA EARLEY THE BEAUFORT GAZE

Beaufort County Council is right: the major roads in the Bluffton area should be made more attractive.

And the Bluffton Town Council was right this week to allocate $48,000 to beautify town entrance signs and other areas, and start a tree-planting program. At the same time, the council recognized the Bluffton Gardeners organization on its 50th anniversary.

To beautify the roads, local governments will have to do more than contribute money. We know from experience that it will come when individuals, small groups, businesses and nonprofit organizations roll up their sleeves and get to work.

County Council established a new advisory board to help guide visual improvements along high-traffic corridors in southern Beaufort County. It's a shame it wasn't done countywide, but we hope the Southern Beaufort County Corridor Beautification Board is a good start. The nine-member board is to offer input to the County Council on landscape architecture, lighting upgrades and other improvements along roads the county owns or maintains.

Its first task should be to study what has come before it.

The Beaufort Garden Club has been beautifying public places for more than 75 years. The board can flash forward to today and see what the new Friends of Gardens Corner nonprofit organization is doing to beautify that historic intersection -- and how.

The board should do a study on the Island Beautification Association from Hilton Head Island. This nonprofit dates to volunteer work of the late Jack Henry, who was spurred to beautify the sandy medians when William Hilton Parkway was widened to four lanes in the late 1970s.

From that long-term effort, people can appreciate why the county and town of Bluffton want to make beautification a priority. At the end of the day, little that is done in Beaufort County has a greater impact on the quality of life for residents and visitors than transforming ugly, unkempt, litter-strewn roadsides and medians into lush gardens.

Beautification seems like a simple thing, but it is complicated and expensive. For that reason, the new board should remember the old adage: "Many hands make light work."

Local governments must make a financial commitment to plantings and maintenance.

But businesses and individuals also must do more.

The Island Beautification Association encourages communities along William Hilton Parkway to beautify their entrances by offering an annual award to the best. The judges say the plantings grow more beautiful, and the competition tougher, each year.

For several years, the association has presented certificates to the business and commercial interests on U.S. 278 that have created gardens at their entrances. Our gardening columnist, Betsy Jukofsky, reports, "The list of those participating has grown like crab grass." In a recent year, those honored included Pineland Station, Shelter Cove Harbour, The Mall at Shelter Cove, Yacht Cove, Fresh Market Shoppes, Legendary Golf, The Greenery, the Village at Wexford, Surf Watch, Waters Edge and the Town of Hilton Head Island.

The new committee should ask: What businesses and housing developments are going to step forward today to help in Bluffton? It should do as Jack Henry did and beat the bushes, cajole, beg, prod and relentlessly push and shove, always with a smile, until something gets done.

The new board could also take a tour around Hilton Head Island High School and ask how all those beautiful plants and flowers got there, and appreciate what a great difference it makes to the cold schoolhouse walls. They would find that a volunteer, retired teacher George Westerfield, led other volunteers to make it happen.

That's our best advice to the new board: Pass out the gloves and get busy.

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