Of the 22 high-priority items the Bluffton Planning Commission recommended to town council Wednesday night, one - the streetscape project in old town - rose to the top of the list.
The project would add sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and on-street parking to make the area more inviting to pedestrians and visitors. The first two phases of the project are complete and cover the area from Burnt Church Road west to Pin Oak Street. The third and final phase would cover Pin Oak to Whispering Pines Street. All told, the project, which runs along May River and Bruin, roads, covers 1.5 miles.
The goal is to transform May River Road "from a thoroughfare (to Hilton Head Island) to a destination of the Bluffton community," the project's description says.
Committee Chairman Paul Viljac praised the first two phases, saying the work creates a welcoming effect."The (nighttime) lighting on May River Road looks fantastic," he said.
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Completing the third phase would extend that effect.
"Right now, when you go down the corridor it just goes dark at Pin Oak, " he said. "It's a priority that needs to be completed to fruition."
Town staff asked commission members to make recommendations to add, modify or strike projects on the full project list. Most of the discussion, however, involved the streetcape project.
Town engineer Bob Fletcher said the design for the final phase was funded last year and is almost complete. Construction will cost about $1.2 million, officials said.
Among other items on the high-priority list are stormwater projects for the Hampton Lakes and Stoney Creek areas, a parking lot and dock at Oyster Factory Park, additional funding for the May River Action Plan and sidewalks, lighting and sewer service in the Buck Island-Simmonsville roads area.
Cost estimates for the projects on the list will be made by the town's finance department before being sent to the town council for consideration in the 2013 budget.
"We will take your recommendation(s) and go off and look at the money," Fletcher said. "At the end of the day, it's is how council wants to program the monies, but they've taken the planning commission's recommendations into consideration before."
Projects that aren't funded sometimes show up on priority lists in succeeding years, Town Manager Anthony Barrett said.
Half of the projects listed this year appeared on the 2011 list of capital improvement projects.
"It's all based on trying to get the money to finish (the projects)," Barrett said.
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