Construction on a long-awaited park steps from the Coligny Circle is set to begin this year, according to the Hilton Head Parks and Recreation Commission.
Lowcountry Celebration Park, to be located on the 9 acres behind the Forest Beach parking lot, has been in talks since the 1990s but was delayed due to hurricane cleanup after Matthew.
Since the park will be located off Pope Avenue, an area that is already considered high-traffic by the town, staffers said a traffic signal will be installed to reduce pedestrian risk. Pope Avenue currently is a construction hot spot because the University of South Carolina at Beaufort required that the town fix up Office Park Road before the USCB Hospitality Management facility opens.
The park’s accompanying roadwork will begin on Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day, according to Scott Liggett, the town’s director of Public Projects and Facilities. The town plans to hold a public information session by the end of the month.
The first phase of construction will take Nassau Street completely closed to through traffic, according to Liggett. Traffic in the Bi-Lo plaza will be rerouted to Cordillo Parkway. This phase of construction must be completed by the contractor by early January 2019.
The second, more high-profile phase of construction will be an installation of a traffic signal at Pope Avenue and Lagoon Road. Jennifer Lyle, an assistant town engineer, said that the installation of the signal will require closure of all turning lanes on Pope Avenue during the daytime and narrowing of the street at night to work on through lanes.
Once the project begins on Sept. 4, the contractor has until early May to complete the Pope Avenue traffic signal construction.
Liggett expects a short overlap between work on the traffic signal and the 14-month park construction process, which is set to begin in early 2019.
The proposed park was presented at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday evening. Urban Designer Chris Darnell detailed the plans, which includes a band shell, public greenscape for events, childrens’ museum, kids’ water zone, adventure playground and educational walk along the existing lagoon.
“I think this park is going to be a game-changer for parks on the island,” Darnell said.
He compared this park to the Harbour Town playground and said “people will return to the island in the future and remember playing at this park,” like they do the Harbour Town installation.
Darnell said one of the focal points of the park will be the “adventure playground,” designed in the style of William Hilton’s “Adventure,” the ship that carried the sailor from Barbados to the Port Royal Sound, in 1663.
The “shovel-ready plan” is set to be fully completed by May 2020, which Darnell said will only disrupt one tourist season.