More sand is drawing not only locals but tourists to the typically secluded Mitchelville Beach following the completion of a recent renourishment project.
Cole Costanzo of Nashville said Friday his family is visiting Hilton Head for the first time. They have fallen in love with Mitchelville Beach, so much so that they have yet to venture to more populated beaches on the south side of the island.
Local residents said it is unlikely a tourist such as Costanzo would have stayed long prior to renourishment. The beach was non-existent at high tide since the surf lapped against a thick treeline. Even at low tide, only a thin strip of beach was revealed.
The island-wide renourishment project kicked-off at Mitchelville Beach June 17, closing it until recent weeks. The $20.7 million project is currently working on the south side of the island.
Scott Liggett, the town’s director of public projects and facilities, said the beach was expanded about 200 feet to the high water line. About 60,000 cubic yards of sand were added to the beach from Fish Haul Creek to Mitchelville Beach Park.
Island resident Jamie Chisholam said he has been visiting the beach often for more than 25 years.
“If you came before the renourishment, you couldn’t walk out very far,” Chisholam said. “There also was a lot of dead drift wood all over. When I first walked out (after the project), I was blown away.”
The seclusion has been the draw of the beach, Chisholam said. He said the recent popularity could change the environment. Yet, he said it won’t keep him away from the beach.
“Sharing is caring,” Chisholam said.
Resident Mark Pollak said he also is happy to share the beach but said town officials need to be aware of the increased use.
“There are more dogs off leash and trash building up,” Pollak said as he pointed to beer bottles entangled in trees.
Pollak wants the town to install signs that explain the rules and place more trash cans at the beach. He also said lifeguards or beach patrols should be considered.
“I was excited about the changes to the beach, but as people starting finding out about this place, problems started,” Pollak said.
Locals aren’t the only ones adjusting to the newly widened beach.
Kosa and Randy Fuller, of Charlotte, have been visiting the island for years but first discovered Mitchelville Beach last summer.
“We loved that the trees were a part of the beach,” Kosa Fuller said. “It just feels naked. It changed the whole feel.”
Randy Fuller said the couple realizes the project was needed because of erosion.
Renourishment projects are completed by the town every eight to 10 years.
“I have heard compliments from people happy to see the erosion fixed,” Liggett said. “We have restored it to what it looked like 10 years ago with the last renourishment project.”
The project is currently working along South Beach between Bald Eagle Road and Green Wing Teal Road in Sea Pines Resort. About 1,000 feet of beachfront is restricted for the project, which moves about 300 feet daily.
That portion of the project is expected to wrap up this weekend and resume at South Forest Beach Aug. 15. It will stay in that area until about mid-September, when it will move to the Singleton Beach area.
The completion of South Beach will mark the half-way point for the project.
The entire project is expected to be completed by mid-October.