Linear park meeting participants call for 'iconic' approach

bheffernan@islandpacket.comAugust 1, 2013 


Chris Darnell, project manager at JK Tiller Landscape Architects answers questions from the public during a meeting Thursday evening at Hilton Head Island Town Hall. The meeting was held to discuss plans for the linear park connecting Chaplin Community Park to the Shelter Cove Towne Center.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo Buy Photo

If a linear park is built to connect Hilton Head's redeveloped Shelter Cove Towne Centre to mid-island parks, it needs to be unforgettable.

That's what many of the nearly 70 residents said Thursday night during a public meeting at Town Hall.

"The more iconic, the better," said Henry Sanders.

A split-level treehouse observation tower, first suggested last fall, was one of the most discussed features at the meeting despite the fact it was cut from the plan in June.

Thursday's meeting was held to brainstorm what could be added to the park after the pedestrian and bicycle paths are built, town manager Steve Riley said.

The meeting was the second held this week to gather citizen input on major projects planned by the town. Nearly 200 people gathered Tuesday to discuss redevelopment of the Coligny area.

Town Council approved conceptual plans for the linear park in August 2012, and it was named a top priority in the town's 2013 strategic plan.

However, Town Council directed staff in June to scale back plans for the 1.5-mile linear park that would connect the shopping center to Chaplin Community Park and eventually reach the beach. The tree house was among the $2.5 million cut from the project, then estimated to cost about $6 million.

The cuts were needed, in part, to adjust for an expected $4.6-million shortfall in tax increment financing due to Beaufort County's upcoming property tax reassessment, Riley said.

TIF funds could be used to pay for a portion of the project, east of a Broad Creek inlet near the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. How the rest will be paid for is uncertain, Riley said.

Suggestions Thursday included a fishing and crabbing pier, a garden for traditional Gullah crops, a butterfly garden, gazebos, a seasonal market selling regional goods, and educational signs about Gullah culture and the history of the island.

Island resident David Ames said the "tremendous" reinvestment in the shopping center presents the project's planners -- J.K. Tiller Associates, a Bluffton-based landscape architectural firm -- with "an opportunity ... for us to make an impact in how people feel about the center of the island."

However, Councilman Marc Grant said planners should also consider how the park will impact nearby property owners.

Grant represents mid-island neighborhoods where a portion of the park would be located and owns Grant's Mini Mart near the intersection of William Hilton Parkway and Singleton Beach Road.

"Whatever you decide will effect ... my family and my business" as well as other nearby residents, he said.

They "should enjoy peace and quality of life just like everybody else," he said.

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at

Related content:

Hilton Head council pares back linear park plan, June 1, 2013

Proposed linear park to beach hits wave of opposition, Dec. 5, 2012

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