Plans for a new waterfront park at Shelter Cove now have the endorsement of the Town of Hilton Head Island's Parks and Recreation Commission.
Commission members voted unanimously Thursday to forward the plans to Town Council for approval.
The designs include an open-air pavilion, water feature, playground and central event lawn with shade structures, seating, and an event plaza with public art.
Plans also call for a promenade, long boardwalk and pavilion with arbor swings overlooking the marsh at Broad Creek.
The five-acre park will bisect the new 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 the developers Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial.
The new park would provide a better venue and backdrop for Island Recreation Association events, said association board member Alan Perry.
But he worries there will not be enough parking to accommodate those attending its sponsored festivals, such as Wing Fest, Snow Day and the Italian-American Festival.
"I think the new park creates a really nice atmosphere," Perry said Friday. "But parking is a real issue. The festivals are vital to our fundraising, and we attract anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 people."
The town has been working with the association and developers on a parking study to determine how many parking spaces are needed for events at the park and how many could be used at the new shopping center. Some on-street parking would be provided, according to plans, but it was not clear Friday how many spaces would be created.
State regulations over the construction of a proposed boardwalk also worried some commission members.
The state's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management requires the boardwalk extend into the marsh of Broad Creek to the point where there's water at low tide, according to community development director Charles Cousins. Doing so would result in a much narrower and longer boardwalk than the town or commission would prefer, at 800 feet long, Cousins said.
"We want to do something much shorter and much less invasive into the marsh and much wider so that it can be used for activities and events," he said.
The commission also said it would like to see a larger playground. Overall, though, commission and recreation association members hailed the park plans.
"It will be a focal point of the island ... a great complement to the shopping center, where people can gather to shop, eat, play, have fun and enjoy the island's beauty," Perry said.
Shelter Cove Community Park would remain open until the new waterfront park is completed, according to the mall's developer and town officials. It was unclear Friday when the park would be built.
Mall manager Roni Allbritton said Friday construction of the Shelter Cove Towne Centre remains on schedule. Kroger is expected to open in early December. The rest of the stores will open progressively after that, Allbritton said.
A final phase of the project would add 210 apartments with views of Broad Creek east of the mall. That phase is expected to start sometime in 2014 and be completed in 2015, she said.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.
Jewelry store, burger restaurant announced for Shelter Cove: Sept. 5, 2013
Hilton Head commission OKs elements for new waterfront park: July 26, 2012
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