A plan to create a multi-acre park as a gateway to Beaufort is quietly being pushed forward by city and area officials.
Mayor Billy Keyserling said the plan calls for buying property on the south side of Boundary Street along Battery Creek. Buildings would be demolished, a walking and biking path added, and a passive, grassy park created.
"We could transform the gateway to this historic water community ..., " he said.
The Civic Master Plan, approved a year ago, shows a park stretching from the area beyond Applebee's to the area just before the cemetery across from Beaufort Town Center.
Keyserling said the project could cost roughly $3 million.
The city and the Open Land Trust have discussed paying 25 percent of those costs each. Other discussions have begun that would have the remaining half paid by the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program.
Open Land Trust executive director Cindy Baysden said her organization is interested in participating, and Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land chairman Ed Pappas said his board is considering it.
Keyserling made a presentation to the Rural and Critical Land board in January. Board members requested more information and expect to discuss the proposal again Feb. 19. The land program buys property for preservation and is funded with bonds issued through countywide referendums.
"It's something on the drawing board, but at this point, we have not made a recommendation that would go to the county," Pappas said Thursday.
Keyserling said he and other officials have begun talking with property owners to gauge interest in selling.
"It's anything from 'I'm eager' to 'Make me an offer' to 'It's complicated and we have to sort of think through it,'" he said. "But no one has said no. So it's a question of giving reasons to those who have doubts to convince them to do it."
That might involve helping businesses and property owners find areas to relocate to, he said.
Keyserling said it was premature to talk about which owners might be interested and at what price. However, "we cannot and will not pay more than appraised value of property," he said.
Where does Wendy's fit?
The Wendy's restaurant at 2234 Boundary St. is one of the properties being eyed for the proposed park, but may be about undergo renovations following a June fire.
The business has been closed since then. The blaze was in the kitchen and did not cause extensive damage, according to the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department.
A building permit for renovations, submitted by Collins Construction, has been approved by the city and work is expected to begin shortly.
Boundary Street update
The Boundary Street renovation project, on the books since 2006, is gearing up for a second round of bids and a contract award which could come as early as the end of April.
City senior projects manager David Coleman said the most recent plans are out for S.C. Department of Transportation review. He expects them back within weeks, approved and ready to go out for bid by the end of February. Contractors will have a month to respond. The bids will then be reviewed by city officials, and an award is expected by end of April.
Work would begin at the intersection of Ribaut Road and Boundary Street in the right-of-way where a duct bank will be installed and utility poles removed. It will progress toward Greenlawn, where road improvements will also begin.
Construction will be from the "outside in," he said, since the right-of-way and utility work must to be done before the roads and medians.
All lane closures will be at night to minimize traffic interruptions. Coleman said he is working with local law enforcement and emergency responders on access plans.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- New vision: Beaufort council approves Civic Master Plan, Feb. 11, 2014
- Construction on Beaufort's Boundary Street project could begin in January, Oct. 27, 2013
- Restaurant fire prompts evacuation, closes road, July 5, 2014