Bluffton to spend $48,000 on Old Town-area beautification projects

The town of Bluffton will spend $48,000 on new signs for its historic old town district as well as landscaping and trees plantings.

On Tuesday, town council members signed off on a list of projects for the newly formed Beautification Committee and its budget.

In the months to come, the money will go toward an old town entry sign at Stock Farm on May River Road; relocating the existing old town sign at Hargray on Bluffton Road to a yet-to-be-determined spot and landscaping around it; and landscaping around the sign at M.C. Riley Elementary School on Burnt Church Road.

The money will also go to develop a tree planing program, including new trees on along the western portion of Buckwalter Parkway from Buckwalter Place Boulevard to the northern property line of Buckwalter Place, and hosting a 2013 Arbor Day event with the Beaufort County school district. Trees will be planted at the seven county schools within the town's limits, said Shawn Leininger, town planner.

The $48,000 total breaks down this way:

  • $5,000 from the town's general fund budget and $13,000 from its accommodations tax fund, a pot of money generated by tourists who stay overnight in hotels.
  • $20,000 from the town's Tree Fund. Developers pay into the fund when they cut down trees to make room for projects and don't have room to plant new trees elsewhere on the site. The deduction leaves about $20,000 in the fund.
  • $10,000 in grant money from the Rotary Club of Bluffton and Waste Management, the operator of several South Carolina landfills.
  • Council member Michael Raymond said he had expected volunteers to do most of the work rather than professional landscapers.

    "What I envisioned was this committee to partner with groups like (the Bluffton Gardeners) and Rotary," he said. "I'm hoping, down the road, the committee looks beyond contracting with professionals to do the work."

    Leininger said only $5,00 of the money will go toward contractors who will do beautification work, and the committee would work to find volunteer groups with which to partner.

    Bluffton resident Sharon Brown who attended Tuesday's meeting, said she hoped future beautification projects would include other parts of town beyond Old Town.

    Follow reporter Gina Smith at twitter.com/GinaNSmith.