Developers of a new waterfront park at Shelter Cove say they imagine visitors lazing on green grass, watching a performance at a pavilion, or strolling along a boardwalk that extends over the Broad Creek marsh.
Their plans for the park won preliminary approval from the Hilton Head Island Design Review Board on Tuesday, but more work needs to be done before the final vote, scheduled for March 25. If it passes that last step, work could begin in late April, landscape architect Wallace Millings said.
The five-acre park will bisect the new 42-acre shopping center being built at the former site of The Mall at Shelter Cove. The town has agreed to split the park's cost -- expected to be about $4.5 million -- with Shelter Cove Towne Centre's developers, Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial.
The plans include an open-air pavilion with restrooms, a water feature, a playground and a central lawn with shade structures and benches. Three more lawns and an event plaza with public art would surround the central lawn. Drawings also showed a pavilion for performances and a promenade parallel to Broad Creek.
"It looks similar to the (Henry C. Chambers) Waterfront Park in Beaufort," said Charles Cousins, town community development director.
But before that vision becomes a reality, several elements of the park -- including the length of the boardwalk -- must be worked out.
The state's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management wants the boardwalk over the marsh to be longer than currently planned. OCRM says the boardwalk, which will have a dock at its end, should extend 800 feet to reach navigable water at low tide. The town prefers it to be shorter and able to reach navigable water at high tide. Cousins said a shorter boardwalk would be less invasive to the marsh. OCRM officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.Millings said Wednesday that the length of the boardwalk is "still in discussion." He directed further questions to developer Mike Mills. Attempts to reach Mills were unsuccessful.
Town planner Jennifer Ray said the boardwalk would probably not be part of the park's first stage of construction.
On other design details, board members praised the park's extensive lawn for events such as Wing Fest and the Italian-American Festival.
Board member Todd Theodore said a fountain would suit the park's entrance, but cautioned developers to "try not to block the view" of the creek.
He also advised them to keep as many trees as possible and add overhangs to the pavilions for shade.
"It would be nice to have as a refuge for people to get out of the sun or a rain shower," he said.
Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.