I would like to share my support for resident Peter Ovens' point of view regarding the planned University of South Carolina Beaufort expansion on Hilton Head Island as reported in the June 1 Island Packet.
The adaptive rehabilitation of our existing buildings should always be considered as the primary solution to successful community and urban planning. Studies show that replacing buildings with new construction can be several times more expensive than reuse. Additionally, older buildings are often more sustainable than new construction and, since rehabilitation is labor intensive, this approach funnels more money directly into the local economy.
Materials for new construction impact the environment and are almost always purchased from sources far away. Hauling new materials clogs highways and uses energy. Demolition is expensive. Demolished materials require huge landfills.
Nearby, the Savannah College of Art and Design has been recognized worldwide for repurposing existing buildings. Undoubtedly SCAD recognizes the positive economic impact and environmental sensibility of this approach. Furthermore, the college demonstrates how these preservation approaches can be creative and inspiring.
What if USCB would do something similar with the wonderful buildings near Pope Avenue? While they may need some restoration and updating, what if the university used the substantial money it would save and direct those dollars to scholarships, tuition discounts, and leading-edge programming?
What if Hilton Head used its savings for even better parks, expanded programs for our children and grandchildren or some tax reductions?
I think Ovens is onto something.