Lisa Sulka

Happy New Year!

What a difference a year makes. Thanks to a robust schedule of capital improvement projects and dedicated Town Council and staff members, Bluffton can shift into 2019 with much pride in its rear-view mirror.

As we enter a new year, let’s take a moment to be proud of last year’s accomplishments.

Look around and see how much the town has changed. May River Road and the Dr. Mellichamp Drive streetscapes are complete and have added on-street parking, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping. Thanks to these two projects, you can walk from one end of the Historic District to the other.

These projects enhanced the community’s quality of life by increasing the connectivity, walkability and accessibility of our Historic District.

Partnerships with nonprofits groups such as the Friends of the Bluffton Dog Parks and the Leadership Class of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce have resulted in a new park and playground.

Bluffton’s first dog park is now open at Oscar Frazier Park. Across the street from it is the Imagination Train playground. Together with the Rotary Club of Bluffton and the Leadership Class, that playground has added several amenities to the area of Oscar Frazier Park known as “The Field of Dreams.”

These two projects are wonderful examples of how residents developed an idea, partnered with the Town and we worked together to completion.

The Town’s third annual Historic Preservation Symposium is another example of working together with engaged residents and other nonprofits. It was held in May to a standing-room only audience.

Through two History Harvest events in November, the Town also asked residents to bring in photos, artifacts and stories of Bluffton history to document facets of Bluffton’s history which have not yet been preserved.

Two statewide organizations honored the Town for its rehabilitation of the Garvin-Garvey House. Gov. Henry McMaster awarded the Town a South Carolina Historic Preservation Award, and the Municipal Association of South Carolina awarded the Town an Achievement Award for preserving the house and its history.

The Garvin-Garvey House is only known structure on the May River originally built by a former slave.

After negotiating the 2017 hurricanes, Mother Nature thought we were ready for more. While a wobble of Hurricane Florence kept Bluffton safe from its fury, we were prepared.

We are grateful Hurricanes Florence and Michael were non-events. However, with each incident, Town staff refines our plans and prepares for the next incident.

Bluffton welcomed new policies and personnel during 2018. The new business license ordinance went into effect, streamlining business license procedures in Bluffton and throughout the region.

The plastic bag ban also went into effect throughout Beaufort County, in hopes of eliminating plastic from our waterways and protecting the region’s delicate marine species.

Together, we have completed many projects and I thank you for another productive and engaging year.

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.