Our parks are a tremendous asset. The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort is a great destination which locals and visitors alike enjoy year round.
Having served three terms on City Council, I have a good appreciation of the value of parks to our community as well as the costs to maintain them. Beaufort has at least 28 parks. The approximate annual cost of maintenance is $1.2 million.
The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park alone is in the neighborhood of $800,000 per year to maintain. And Beaufort does a lot more than just mow and rake. For example, the Bluff west old the old Courthouse is owned by the Beaufort County Open Land Trust but is maintained by the city.
Every spring, City Council and staff work hard to write a balanced budget. Raising taxes is not well received by the City Council or its citizens.
Depending on the size of the proposed park at Whitehall, as well as what is put in place there, will determine the cost of upkeep. I would guess it will cost between $30,000 and $60,000 annually.
I would prefer to see the waterfront portion of Whitehall left undeveloped, with a passive park (benches and trails). It will keep it natural and be more reasonable to maintain.
Remember, the property owners of the city will shoulder the responsibility for maintenance, both near- and long-term.
George H. O’Kelley Jr.