In my last column I asked readers to comment on the future of our community, which is of great concern right now. At the time this issue went to press there was still no official word about the Heritage. At the same time we learned that we’re in danger of losing the last commercial airline service to Hilton Head Island: US Airways is contemplating cutting off its service to Charlotte.
While these two incidents are only a small part of what drives our economy and quality of life, they are symbolically very significant because they signal that this region may be falling from its elite status.
It is evident that we need to come up with a long-term plan to revive our image and the quality of the user experience for residents and visitors alike. The ideas need to go much further than merely cutting a few trees at the landing strip and extending the runway. We should look at this as important opportunity to ask ourselves what type of community we want to be. There are many great possibilities, but most of them revolve on the following central themes: nature, learning, sports and arts, which all have an element of discovery at their core.
Here are some other suggestions from our readers, as gathered in our online poll:
Dan Cleyrat, Hilton Head Island
- Build a bikeway on the west side of U.S. 278. This would greatly increase visitor and resident traffic to businesses on the west side of the highway. It would also greatly enhance our bicycle-friendly designation and probably result in more visitors.
- Hilton Head needs a facility that can accommodate national conventions and symposiums. I served as the technical chair for 14 years of a national technical symposium that is attended by engineers from NASA, the Department of Defense services, the Department of Energy and industry. Several years ago when it was suggested to hold the event on Hilton Head, I went on site visits of the major hotels with my meeting planners to evaluate meeting facilities and found that none have adequate meeting space to accommodate this symposium. This limitation is a real shame.
J.C. Kudless, Milford, NJ
- I believe that a master community plan should be specific and center on three key points: Environmental Centers for Learning About Nature (E-CLEAN), new growth opportunities at the Mall at Shelter Cove and tangible efforts to make the Lowcountry green inside and out. How does one start to shape the future?
- Create a coastal environmental impact research center with private and public funding that would focus on new techniques for handling issues like beach erosion in environmentally positive manner. Several mid-island commercial properties that currently lack tenants might find such a center to be a positive improvement to their property.
- Creating experimental test gardens of herbs, vegetables and flowers at interested gated communities and public donated lands that can be marketed locally at first and regionally later on.
- Greater use of on-site remediation model student laboratories developed by the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Clemson/ Beaufort County Agriculture Extension Service at public and private sites along the May River and freshwater lowlands. Why not make our part of the Lowcountry a regional center for success in decreasing drinking water contamination?
- Encouraging greater partnering by local health care professionals with local medical centers to publicize our commitment to preventive medical care.
- Encourage county and town politicians to stop headline-catching bickering. As an alternative: Why not a bipartisan attempt to create a serious package that might entice the high-end California all-electric car company Tesla to establish a major car store at the mall?
If you have suggestions to add to the list, please email them to me, or post them in the comments below.
None of this will happen quickly; it could easily take 10 years — and the will of the government, private sector and the voting public — to reinvent ourselves. But in the end, we’ll have increased our quality of life and our property values and made this area what it was intended to be: A unique place to enjoy nature and each other.