Laden with construction equipment, orange safety barrels, and piles of dirt, a stretch of May River Road just west of Bluffton’s Old Town core doesn’t look like much now.
But by next year, the site — which sits in the heart of an ongoing streetscape improvement project — will be home to a new park, according to Bluffton officials and a local developer who recently donated the land to the town.
That park is just one a series of recreation and open space projects planned for areas around Bluffton’s historic district, many of which are partnerships between the town and private groups or individuals.
Among those spaces:
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▪ Demolition on a site along Boundary Street is currently underway. The parcel will be home to a passive park and public parking area.
▪ A town-owned property on Calhoun Street will soon become new public green space with improved access to the May River. The property will be maintained as part of a partnership between Bluffton and Beaufort County.
▪ A local nonprofit organization is poised to break ground on a new dog park adjacent to Oscar Frazier Park. Once completed, Friends of Bluffton Dog Park group will turn the property over to the town for public use.
▪ On the other side of Oscar Frazier Park, the Bluffton Rotary Club is partnering with the town and the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program for a series of improvements at the Field of Dreams recreation area. That project — which is expected to begin early next year — includes additional playground equipment, new picnic pavilion with restrooms, a walking trail encircling the park, and space for formal events such as weddings.
Eugene Marks, who developed Bluffton’s Stock Farm community and donated the May River Road property to the town, said Tuesday that “any healthy community, particularly a historic community, should be a wonderful mix” of public and private efforts to preserve space open space and promote parks.
“I’ve been looking at the (May River Road) streetscape (project) come together,” Marks said, “and I thought it would be nice to integrate (a park) into the project.”
Town documents show that the land donation requires the town use the property “forever ... for public purposes.”
The roughly third-of-an-acre property lies along May River Road between Stock Farm Road and Heyward Street, across from the Dollar General store.
“Over time and as development continues, Old Town will start to evolve outside the Promenade and toward the May River Road corridor,” Marks said. “This area is just going to come alive.”
The idea is for the park to serve as restful and relaxing place for pedestrians to sit or mingle with neighbors as the make their way through the corridor, he said.
Town manager Mark Orlando said in a statement earlier this week that the property “is the perfect addition to (Bluffton’s) park portfolio” and adds open space and amenities that “enhance the town’s walkability.”
The park is expected to be complete by late next year.