After years of complaints and crackdowns on illegal parking, improvements are being planned for the narrow, flood-prone side streets off of Mathews Drive.
Town of Hilton Head Island engineers presented designs Monday to nearby business and property owners. The project includes replacing crushed gravel and deteriorating pavement with new asphalt or permeable pavers and installing drainage inlets.
The town purchased the streets from private interests in 2007 as part of an effort to spruce up the Mathews Drive area. The streets include Oak Park Drive, which is behind Port Royal Plaza; Mingo Way, Cooperative Way; Electric Avenue; and Thompson Street. All are near Palmetto Electric Cooperative's headquarters and Mid Island Plaza. The town may also take ownership of Power Alley from the S.C. Department of Transportation.
Cars and trailers stick out, sometimes halfway into the narrow alleys, impeding passage, especially after a rain, when water pools in the middle of the road, assistant town engineer Jennifer Lyle said.
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"The streets need to be repaired and the parking reconfigured out of safety," Lyle said. "Most of the spaces are partly in the street right of way and partly on private property. It's really difficult to get in and out of there and park around these businesses."
The town plans to convert the informal parking spots into about 90 safe, clearly delineated parking spaces. Because the roads once were private, the parking spots were never approved by the town and do not meet its standards, Lyle said.
Town Council already has approved the project, budgeting $500,000 in tax-increment financing revenue to provide the on-street parking, repave Cooperative Way, Mingo Way and Oak Park Drive, install drainage and pave dirt Electric Avenue and Thompson Street, Lyle said.
Construction is expected to begin sometime in fall and last about three months. The town will preserve all specimen trees in the area, Lyle said.
Area business owners welcomed the improvements during the meeting and said they were overdue.
"It's a piece of a quilt that doesn't meet today's standards," Sam McCleskey, an architect working with Palmetto Electric to remodel its operations building, said of the area. "This will bring the whole appearance of the neighborhood up."
David Argent, vice president of the YANA Club of Hilton Head Island, 107 Mathews Drive, agreed. The nonprofit supports those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction by providing meeting space for 12-step groups.
"We just completed putting in new landscaping and irrigation at our facility to add to the appearance of the area," Argent said. "Putting in this new parking and paving the streets will be a nice finishing touch."