The timetable for completion of Lowcountry Celebration Park on the island’s south end has been pushed back to December. The pandemic and weather issues forced supply chain delays from vendors around the country and in Canada, but project construction was minimally affected.
“Right now we’re working on substantial completion of the park in the middle of November, but that doesn’t mean that the park will be open,” said Chris Darnell, project manager and staff urban designer for the Town of Hilton Head Island.
The town’s design team then will review the completed construction details and report with a punch list to the contractor to resolve any outstanding issues within one month.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for Dec. 10, Darnell said.
Construction of the $14 million project funded by tax increment financing began in June 2019 and was expected to be completed 14 months later. That didn’t happen for obvious, unforeseen reasons.
Darnell expects residents and tourists to thoroughly embrace the park once it opens. It will feature state-of-the-art modern amenities with interactive historical, environmental and educational programs and displays, he said, with an emphasis of fun in the playground.
“What I would like everybody to understand is that this park is tied to the community and the environment it’s in,” Darnell said. “It’s a planned park, not a preserve, and not a park that can be plopped down in the middle of somewhere. This is a very much a Hilton Head park. … This is not an off-the-shelf kind of park.”
One of the signature features of the park will be the expansive Adventure playground, named for the ship William Hilton captained when he discovered the island in 1663.
Another highlight is the perimeter trail around the 10-acre site that will have subdued lighting and security cameras as walkers pass by an illuminated water fountain in the lagoon.
Another focal point is the spacious lawn and pavilion with a stage where families and friends can enjoy festivals and concerts appealing to all ages.
The Sandbox, an interactive children’s museum, will be located on the property as well.
Other amenities include: Restrooms, exercise stations, wading water feature for kids, and about 130 new public parking spaces.
Pervious parking lots will allow stormwater to flow into the ground to eliminate flooding.
A new traffic signal was installed on Pope Avenue at the park’s main entrance across from Lagoon Road, and a new crosswalk and traffic signal were installed on South Forest Beach Drive.
The environmentally sound park is located next to the beach parking lot at the end of Pope Avenue, across from Coligny Plaza.
In other town renovation news, the removal of more than 190 standing dead and fallen trees began Sept. 22 on the site of the former Planter’s Row golf course in Port Royal Plantation.
In addition to removing trees, the town’s contractors will trim trees along the existing cart paths. Ongoing maintenance activities, including bush hogging overgrown vegetation, will continue around the drainage ponds and expand to the rest of the property.
Split rail fencing will be placed around the property in the more open areas of the tract and connect it to the existing cart path system, so it is safe for users.
The project is expected to take two to four weeks.
Town Council approved the $350,000 expense from unused money in the town’s general fund and unused electric finance fees.
The town purchased the 103-acre site in 2013 and plans to build a massive public park.
Lowcountry resident Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.