When you visit town hall, you will notice a new name on the building. By an act of town council, we have renamed it the Stephen G. Riley Municipal Complex to honor our now retired longtime Town Manager Steve Riley.
With the renaming of town hall after him, Steve joins highly respected individuals whose names have a place in history at our government center. Those include Benjamin Racusin, for whom our Town Council Chamber is named, and Betsy Jukofsky, whose name graces our Xeriscape Garden.
Racusin had the singular honor of being the first mayor of Hilton Head Island when it was incorporated as a Town in 1983. He contributed hundreds of hours to guiding our Town through its early years and helped lay the groundwork for where we are today.
Jukofsky was a master gardener and environmentalist. She did not hold a political office, but she helped us to realize and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.
Steve joined the Town of Hilton Head Island 29 years ago and worked as our community development director. As the leader of that department, he built a fine cadre of talented professionals to carry out the wishes of town council and the residents of the Island. They once worked from digs behind a former Huddle House on the north end of the Island before the staff grew and needed more space. The building that currently houses town staff and operations became available, and Steve led the transition from the old space to our present location.
More important than moving from one location to another was the growth of town operations under Steve. Three years after joining the town, he was named interim town manager and subsequently town manager. He didn’t shy away from the awesome responsibilities that came with leading a young town and working with town councils.
Steve’s accomplishments are too numerous to list, but a few worth noting due to his fine leadership are refining and rewriting the Land Management Ordinance to meet the evolving needs of the community, the merger of two independent fire districts into a town department, and a robust land-buying program.
He will be remembered for helping to manage our response efforts during Hurricane Matthew and the coronavirus pandemic. He has been lauded for mentoring others, responding to numerous calls for help and advice, and tackling a plethora of issues.
With all Steve has contributed, it is only fitting that town hall bears his name. After 26 years as town manager, Steve has left big shoes to fill. He will be missed, but we wish him and his family well.
John McCann is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov