Contractors are poised to finish construction next week on the $146,000 makeover of Dubois Park in Bluffton.
Phase-one upgrades include new landscaping and sod, swinging benches, new lights and a rain garden. About a dozen on-street parking spaces and sidewalks also were installed at the park at Boundary and Lawrence streets in old town.
Judy Lewis has watched the project take shape over the past few years from just across the street at Old Town Vintage Posters. She called the finished product "lovely."
"I think it's very nice. It's certainly improved the look of the area," said Lewis, who owns the gallery with her husband, Tom.
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The land for Dubois Park (pronounced da-BOSE) was deeded to the town in 1940 with the stipulation that it remain a public park. Plans to upgrade the 1-acre tract have been around since at least 2005, when the town created its Old Town Master Plan. More recently, a small building and several trees were removed to provide more open space.
The town hopes eventually to build a new playground, pavilion and public restrooms in the park. A building used most recently by the Society of Bluffton Artists could also be renovated or removed. The schedule for those projects will likely depend on the outcome of several grants for which the town has applied, said Karen Jarrett, town transportation project manager.
Rhonda Fantozzi, an artist whose workshop is directly behind the park, believes the improvements will help her and other nearby businesses. "It's a plus for me because I am tucked away on a side street," said Fantozzi, who creates fences, furniture and other works from wrought iron.
Jon Rinaldi, owner of Vineyard 55 on Calhoun Street, said the upgraded park might draw people to old town who might not otherwise come.
Although crews are finishing building a walkway and a few other last-minute touches, Jarrett said the park is open to the public.