Politics & Government

Beaufort has millions left over after major road work. Here’s how the city could spend it

As the final accounting is wrapping up on a major Beaufort road project, the city has ideas for how to spend the millions left over.

About $5 million remains in money collected from a special tax district that helped pay for the $33-million Boundary Street project.

City officials drafted a list of possible uses for the money to be decided in the coming months. Possibilities include upgrades to government buildings, buying property for future uses along Boundary Street and drainage work.

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Here are the early recommendations and cost estimates presented to City Council members this week:

Buying property

About $2 million could be marked for property easements along Polk Street for a parallel road north of Boundary Street. Another $400,000 would go toward a potential deal to buy and raze a Wendy’s restaurant as part of plans for open park space along the marsh.

There are no recent plans or estimates for the total cost of the new road, though a 2011 grant application estimated the cost at $10 million, city finance director Kathy Todd said. City officials think the new road would eventually improve traffic flow and create better access to area businesses.

“That sets that whole corridor up ripe for redevelopment, which was one of the intents of the Boundary Street project,” City Councilman Stephen Murray said during a workshop Tuesday.

Upgrades to government buildings

The city wants to update the police department and upgrade security at City Hall at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

Plans are for the police department to eventually occupy upper floors and allow the county to lease the lower level. About half the cost could go to additional security for City Council chambers and the planning department, city manager Bill Prokop said.

Another $500,000 would go to long-awaited renovations to the city’s public works headquarters near Burton.

Drainage and road work

Along Robert Smalls Parkway, which intersects Boundary Street, the city could spend $500,000 on drainage work. And updating a median in front of City Hall would cost about $100,000, the city estimates.

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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