A request for $30 million to got toward a Hilton Head Island arts and entertainment venue tops a list of capital projects that will be considered for a possible countywide sales-tax increase that could go before voters in November.
An independent panel will consider projects Tuesday from Beaufort County and its municipalities on how to spend proceeds from the proposed 1 percent sales-tax hike, which is expected to raise $120 million over four years. The measure could clash with a similar proposal from the Beaufort County School District, which wants voters to decide on a tax increase that would generate $282 million over 10 years.
In addition to Hilton Head’s arts center, the list of possible projects is heavy on roads and bridges. Both Hilton Head and Beaufort County asked for improvements to U.S. 278, including an underpass at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, a reworked intersection at Windmill Harbour and design work to replace and widen the bridges to the island.
Among the other requests is the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s wish for $12.5 million to build continuing-education centers in Beaufort, Bluffton and on Hilton Head.
Bluffton is asking for more than $20 million for work to improve the water quality of the May River, fund improvements to Oyster Factory Park and Calhoun Street dock in the town’s historic district, and build sidewalks and trails.
The city of Beaufort wants a downtown parking garage and park improvements. And Port Royal is asking for money to resurface roads and pay for several infrastructure projects involving the S.C. Ports Authority property.
Some of the big-ticket items on the sales-tax wish list are as follows:
The county has listed more than $33 million in possible projects in its unincorporated areas, including:
▪ An estimated $20 million for work on U.S. 278. Improvements on Jenkins Island at Windmill Harbour would widen the road to three lanes in both directions and close the median except for two U-turn openings. Traffic would enter and exit with right turns. Other projects include a Pinckney Island underpass, engineering design work to widen and replace the bridges to the island and measures responding to a 2015 safety audit.
▪ $6 million for new EMS facilities in Pritchardville and Burton.
▪ $4 million for a network of paths connecting neighborhoods to schools.
▪ Jail upgrades and repairs, a Woods Memorial Bridge traffic system, network infrastructure and Waddell Mariculture Center improvements.
City of Beaufort
The city is asking for an estimated $22 million in projects, including:
▪ $16 million for a downtown parking garage and $3.5 million to extend Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, projects the city says must be done in tandem. The park project would replace the marina parking lot with green space and build a new harbormaster building in place of the marina store and restroom facility.
▪ $2 million for Southside Park. The work could include trails, multi-use green space, community and butterfly gardens, and an open-air pavilion.
The town’s list totals an estimated $23.7 million. It includes:
▪ $10 million in work aimed at improving May River water quality, including stormwater pond improvements, wetlands restoration and water and sewer installation.
▪ Improvements to Oyster Factory Park, Calhoun Street Dock and Dr. Mellichamp Drive. The Oyster Factory Park work would include a bulkhead, crabbing dock, playground, treehouse and parking improvements, at an estimated $3.7 million.
▪ $4.2 million for new sidewalks and trails.
The town’s projects total more than $50 million, some overlapping the county’s, and include:
▪ $30 million for an arts and entertainment campus. While plans for the venue are sparse, the town said the site could include a concert hall to play host to symphonies, bands and theater groups. Plans could also include space for historical and cultural displays, classrooms, art galleries, meeting space and a cafe, according to the town’s request. An outdoor component would host family events, festivals or concerts.
▪ $18 million worth of improvements to U.S. 278 from Pinckney Island to Squire Pope Road, and $5 million for design work to widen and replace bridges to the island. The requests are in conjunction with the county’s plans.
▪ $7 million to pave and install drainage on 21 dirt roads. And $210,000 for a pavilion and storage facility at the planned Mitchelville Freedom Park in what is now Fish Haul Creek Park.
The town is asking for about $10 million in projects, most related to roads and parks. Those include:
▪ More than $6 million in projects for the unsold S.C. Ports Authority property. That includes $5 million for a new road connecting the end of Paris Avenue to Ribaut Road. A one-acre waterfront park on Paris Avenue, a 3,000-foot promenade along Battery Creek, landscaping and tree work and new stormwater systems amount to another $1 million.
▪ $2.5 million to resurface roads. The town owns and maintains roads south of Ribaut Road. Another $300,000 is requested for sidewalks.
▪ An eight-court, lighted and fenced pickleball facility, at an estimated $300,000. The town just began hosting the sport indoors at The Shed.
If you go
What: Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission meets to review list of possible projects from Beaufort County and municipalities
When: 3 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Executive conference room, administration building, Beaufort County Government Robert Smalls Complex, 100 Ribaut Road, Beaufort