Beaufort officials: Parking garage, park expansion go hand-in-glove

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 13, 2014 

Festival-goers enjoy live music and food during the 15th Annual A Taste of Beaufort Festival Sponsored by Hilton Head Hyundai at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on May 3, 2014.

THEOPHIL SYSLO — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • In other business, council:

    • Approved a 10-year lease for the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System to use 1,648 square feet of space at the city's police department and municipal court building. The lease charges $60,000 annually for the first five years and $50,000 a year for the final five. The first five years include the costs of building renovations.
    • Declared 814 Newcastle St., a home damaged in a 2012 fire, unfit for habitation. A timeframe was established for the homeowner to work with city staff to do repairs instead of demolishing the building.
    • Discussed a grant opportunity for Southside Park, which resident Kathy Lindsay said might be applicable to Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
    • Met in closed-door session to receive legal advice and discuss city-owned land.
    • Heard fire and court budget presentations.
    • Postponed presentations on the public works budget and third-quarter fiscal year 2014 financials.
    • Proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

City of Beaufort officials are grudgingly putting together a list of almost $30 million worth of projects for consideration, should county voters approve a 1 percent capital project sales tax this fall.

"You're sitting with five people who oppose this process," Mayor Billy Keyserling said during a city council meeting Tuesday night. "This is a terrible process."

Keyserling dislikes what he calls "the politics" involved in having municipalties pitching projects to the Beaufort County Capital Project Sales Tax Commission, the panel that will create a list for County Council to veto or approve.

Keyserling said a local option sales tax would have been more practical and would have offered property tax relief for residents.

Historic Beaufort Foundation board president Conway Ivy said the list of projects would likely have to include a big project in the northern half of the county to sway voters.

At the top of the city's list is a $16 million parking garage and a $3.5 million Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park expansion that must be seen as a single project, council members said.

"They can't be split," Councilman Mike Sutton said. "I can't support either one separately."

The Waterfront Park project would expand the park into the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot, potentially taking up 150 spots there.

Those numbers aren't firm and aren't based on engineering studies, city manager Scott Dadson said.

The park costs are based on a decade-old plan to add green space.

The parking garage estimates are from recent work with Structured Parking Solutions, which is interested in the project.

The price includes $1.3 million for acquiring land on Port Republic Square; $6.3 million for a 450-space garage; and $8 million for liner buildings to house businesses and mask the garage, Dadson said.

"These are our best educated estimates, based upon value and some research we did," he said.

City council's next priority is using $2.15 million to renovate Southside Park from the largely grassy space it is now into a more usable space with trails, a playground and dog parks.

The list of capital projects could also include:

  • A new road network for Beaufort Plaza: $1.2 million.
  • Basil Green Park: $1.125 million.
  • Greene Street streetscape: $1.95 million.
  • Greenlawn Drive steetscape: $1.25 million.
  • Duke Street streetscape: $900,000.
  • Beaufort Commerce Park spec building: $2.2 million
"We're dealing with a process that is like putting on a blindfold and throwing darts," Keyserling said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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