Islanders Beach Park is highly cherished and much enjoyed by residents who regard it as a treasured spot. It’s a place they want to call their own without the influx of seasonal visitors. They want to enjoy all the amenities provided at this beach park, including access to the 156 parking spaces.
When Islanders opened in 1999, only residents with beach parking passes were permitted to park there. In 2010, the Town Council decided to install 25 public parking meters, which allowed the Town to qualify for a beach renourishment grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. This also opened available beach parking spaces to the general public, which, over time, concerned resident beach pass holders.
We asked Town staff to do some research based on public sentiment and bring forth recommendations for dealing with access and parking at Islanders Beach.
Last month, Town Council passed a resolution that laid out recommendations we hope will help alleviate most concerns. Here’s what the resolution does:
• Defines “residents” for the purpose of determining who is eligible to apply for a Town beach parking pass. A resident would be any person who owns any single or multi-family residence in the municipal limits of the Town, any person who leases a single or multi-family residence for 183 days or more in a calendar year or any person who owns a time-share interest for more than 183 days a year.
• Sets the annual fee for a beach parking pass at $15. It is valid only during the calendar year in which it is purchased and is available only to residents who meet eligibility requirements.
• Restricts certain shuttle vehicles not transporting island residents from entering Islanders Beach Park. Hotels and timeshares would no longer be able to use golf carts and other vehicles to bring their guests to Islanders Beach. Exceptions are granted for those types of vehicles registered to Hilton Head Island assisted living facilities, nonprofits, religious institutions, and other similar civic or community groups that transport exclusively Hilton Head Island residents.
• Allows pedestrian and bicyclists continued access into Islanders Beach Park. The Town plans to build a multi-use pathway into Islanders Beach Park. We will keep you apprised of this project.
We know concerns still linger about Islanders’ Beach Park and who should be allowed to park there and access the beach. For the time being, we plan to keep the metered parking spaces while Town staff negotiates a better arrangement with SCDHEC. You can access our beach through our six other beach parks.
For information about beach parking passes and access to our beach parks, visit hiltonheadislandsc.gov.
John McCann is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov