Capt. William Hilton's ship will finally return to the island he landed on in 1663 at the new Coligny Park on Pope Avenue.
A version of his ship will anchor the planned playground there, equipped this time with some of the fun things Hilton probably didn't have himself -- ladders, slides, crow's nests and play cannons.
"This playground and park will be the most outstanding facility in the state of South Carolina by far," said Heather Rath, head of the island's Parks and Recreation Commission. "This thing is truly awesome; it's an iconic piece. We feel like it fits the needs of a variety of ages for citizens of the island as well as visitors."
The ship, playground and larger Coligny Park were detailed in full for the first time in new designs released by the Town of Hilton Head Island this week.
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The new park will stretch from Pope Avenue back toward the Comfort Inn between Nassau Street and a planned extension of Lagoon Road. The full park will include the playground, existing live oak trees, swings, shaded seating, a lagoon, restroom facilities, new walking trails with exercise stations, a large pavilion and open space for both a passive park and special events.
The park also includes a new 3,500-square-foot building for The Sandbox children's museum, including outdoor playing space and 35 dedicated parking spaces, according to the plans.
The Parks and Recreation Commission endorsed the plans 4-2 at its meeting Thursday, Rath said.
The town-owned park is currently the wooded area just west of the Coligny Beach parking lot, but town leaders have long envisioned a park for the location, said urban designer Jennifer Ray.
Town Council approved the general concept almost a year ago, after months of public planning and feedback to design improvements to the Coligny area and beach parking, Ray said. The new designs put those ideas on paper to begin the formal design and permitting process this coming winter and spring, she added.
However, some changes could be in the works for final design, said Ed Berry, owner of the Legendary Golf mini-golf course at the corner of Nassau Street and Pope Avenue.
Legendary Golf has leased its corner of the property from the town since 2001. The council's master plan to date does not include the course, which would have to relocate, but Berry and Mayor David Bennett are considering whether the plan could be tweaked to include the course, Berry said.
Construction is expected to begin around next Labor Day, to minimize interference with the busy summer tourism season, Ray said.
In addition to park improvements, the project will include:
- The extension of Lagoon Road from Pope Avenue to Tanglewood Drive.
- Improvements to Nassau Street.
- New, on-street parking on both Lagoon Road and Nassau Street.
- Upgrades to the existing beach parking lot, including a new drop-off and pick-up area and a new connection to South Forest Beach Drive.
Improvements to the beach parking lot will not increase its current capacity, but the on-street parking will add another 85 spots in the area, Ray said.
Future phases of Coligny-area redevelopment are expected to add new traffic signals around the parking lot and improve the street network along Lagoon Road and South Forest Beach Drive, according to the approved master plan.
The entire redevelopment plan will be funded with $20 million raised through the 10-year, $50 million extension of the town's tax-increment financing district on that area, Ray said. Exact costs for the first phase of the project -- the park and initial road and parking lot improvements -- have not yet been determined, she said.
Island Packet readers were quick to share their thoughts on the renderings. Here is just a sample of comments we received on our Facebook page.
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Where are the trees? Do these designers know how hot it is to sit and watch your kids, much less be the kids playing without any shade?
Shannon Mason Kline
How exciting! We are so fortunate to live in such a wonderful area!
Vicki Hearon Burris
Very cool for kids! I like it.
I wonder if it'll be in my lifetime. Everything down there takes forever.
Patti Robertella Forte
Tacky, tacky, tacky. If I wanted trashy, I would have moved to Myrtle Beach instead of Hilton Head. People come for the ocean, not the standard tacky tourist junk.
Jane Irons Carnahan