Beaufort's residential areas would become more connected -- within neighborhoods and to the environment -- under a vision presented Tuesday night after several months of study.
The Office of Civic Investment made a final presentation at City Hall on Sectors 2 and 3, which include the area around Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Technical College of the Lowcountry as well as areas to the north and south.
Some plans could be completed within a few years, while others would take a century. Some projects would be done through the government, but most would be driven by businesses and residents.
"We hope these visions are strong enough to enable people and excite the right group of people to make it their everyday job," said Demetri Baches, co-director of office.
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Fellow co-director Craig Lewis took the audience of about 50 on a journey around Sectors 2 and 3. He started at Robert Smalls Parkway and the Beaufort Plaza and showed how the road could be rerouted. A community and commercial village could be built around the parkway's intersection with Boundary Street.
Along the future Rails-Trails path, planners saw opportunities to build communities between the trail and Battery Creek. Riverview Charter School could become more incorporated with the surrounding neighborhood. Lewis emphasized the importance of institutions such as schools as anchors for communities.
The Beaufort Depot was visualized as a mix of businesses and residences that pay homage to the site's industrial past. The rail trail would run through the depot.
Drawings for Southside Park -- formerly the home of a waste-water treatment plant -- had more housing ringing the green space. Lewis suggested part of the park include a small, eight-acre farm that would introduce agriculture in an urban setting. Residents said they want the park to remain a passive, flexible recreational space, he said.
"What you see is this connected network of green infrastructure that really ties things together with the natural environment and then with the human environment as well," Lewis said.
Resident Geddes Dowling, who has 30 years of experience as an architect in Atlanta, lives downtown but called part of the area studied in Tuesday's meeting his "old stomping ground." He praised the ideas for Ribault Road, which were more user-friendly for vehicles as well as for bikes and pedestrians.
"I like the changing of Ribault Road so it has a different character along the whole length of it -- so it's responding to the neighborhood, using the technology and (traffic) signals -- those are all wonderful techniques," he said.
The plans included visions for how Beaufort Memorial Hospital, TCL and the Beaufort County government complex could change over time.
All the plans will be available within a few weeks on the Office of Civic Investment's website, www.beaufortcivicinvestment.org.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort