A group wants to give the Town of Hilton Head Island a portion of Main Street that some parents call a dangerous corridor for children walking and biking to schools.
But several town officials worry about the cost to fix and maintain the well-traveled road and several side streets the group also wants to donate.
The officials are concerned that accepting the roads could set an unintended precedent.
"I'd hate to create an expectation with the public that we can take roads, fix them and put bike paths on them when we haven't added them into our" approved budget, Councilwoman Kim Likins said.
The town's Public Facilities Committee met Tuesday to discuss the Main Street Property Owners Association's proposal to donate 1.2 miles of roads. The streets include: Main Street from Whooping Crane Way to Wilborn Road; Central Avenue; Museum Street; Merchant Street; and part of Meeting Street.
The roads are cracked and lined with potholes. Some are missing curbs.
Main Street Realty president David Staley said the association has not had money to fix the streets permanently.
It collects about $75,000 a year from owners to maintain roads, landscaping and lighting, he said. He didn't know how much the group spends annually on roadwork.
"If the town is looking for like-new conditions, we would be in no position to do that," he said.
Town engineer Jeff Buckalew did not know how much it would cost to fix the roads.
Once fixed, $50,000 would pay for street signs and road markings. It would cost $20,000 to $40,000 each year to maintain the roads, he estimated.
The town hopes to resurface the streets in the next five years, and add bike paths and sidewalks. Those projects would cost about $1.5 million, he said.
Some parents say the infusion of public money would make travel safer for schoolchildren and increase visitors to Main Street businesses.
In an online petition started by Indigo Run resident Jennifer Bell, a parent of four, many parents say they won't let their kids walk or ride to school because the roads are too busy and unsafe. Nearly 100 signed the letter asking the town to take control of the roads.
"I've almost seen children run over" at Main Street and Wilborn Road, which leads to the island's public schools, Bell said.
Councilman Marc Grant said the town is obligated to accept the roads.
Compared to acquiring other streets, "I can defend Main Street because of how much our public schools use it," he said.
Councilman John McCann did not support the proposal.
He said he wanted more information on how much it would cost to fix and maintain the streets, and whether stormwater repairs would be needed. He also wanted the Main Street association to kick in annual money. Staley said the group would consider paying the town an annual amount but did not know how much.
Councilwoman Kim Likins said she understood the roads serve a public benefit but wanted more information about costs.
In a 2-1 vote, the committee decided to send the proposal to Town Council.
If approved by council Sept. 16, town engineers would research the cost to fix and maintain the roads. They would also survey the stormwater systems and suggest necessary repairs.
Council would vote on whether to accept the roads.
Bell, the parent, said she hopes it's soon.
If delayed, "there's going to be a child killed there," she said.
Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.