Bluffton’s path to a more livable, walkable town with plenty of green space and water access is moving forward thanks to its multi-year plan for capital improvement projects.

The projects are an effort to enhance the quality of life for residents with such things as new sidewalks, better lighting and the installation of sewers for properties outside of planned communities. Environmentally, the sewer projects remove the problem of failed septic tanks, which can pollute the town’s and region’s natural resources.

The five-year Capital Improvement Program is evaluated each year, based on the two-year Town Strategic Plan, town council’s priorities and available budget, said town spokeswoman Debbie Szpanka.

The Old Town Master Plan, adopted in 2006, provided a blueprint for the Historic District’s overall efforts. The district’s success in enhancing walkability, accessibility and connectivity is a template for other areas of Bluffton, Szpanka said. Among council’s priorities are connecting neighborhoods, businesses, restaurants and retails stores so the town maintains its “small-town feel” through elements such as sidewalks, streetscapes and parks, she said.

“Based on the success of the streetscape projects in the Historic District, making Bluffton a walkable town is an important priority in other areas of Bluffton as well,” she said.

The town fueled its expansion through land acquisition.


As recently as 1998, Bluffton had fewer than 800 residents and was a little over one square mile. Today, it’s 54 square miles with a population estimated at more than 27,000. Bluffton is only 44% built out, and town officials have said the population at some point might reach 75,000.

“Rooted in its explosive growth is Bluffton’s small-town feel,” Szpanka said.

And in a town where the average age of residents is 36, waterfront and neighborhood parks, as well as easy access to the restaurants and eateries, are an important attraction.


“Bluffton’s parks are very popular with young families and provide community gathering places for movie night, the Christmas Tree Lighting, access to the May River, as well as for wedding and special-event venues,” Szpanka said.

  • Wright Family Park and the Calhoun Street Regional Dock: The park gives residents and guests public access to the May River. It joins Oyster Factory Park in giving the public river access. The Calhoun Street Regional Dock is a separate project adjacent to the new park. Wright Family park will include a rehabilitated Squire Pope Cottage. (The rehabilitation is not expected to be complete until at least 2021). The estimated cost for the park was $1.6 million, the dock: $854,000 and the cottage: $1.2 million.

  • Buck Island-Simmonsville Sewer Project Phase 5: A $2.2 million phase of the multi-year, multi-phase project that’s underway. Bluffton’s sewer projects are designed to provide sewer infrastructure to residents who don’t live in a planned community by replacing septic tanks.

  • Buck Island-Simmonsville Neighborhood Sidewalks & Lighting: This $1.4 million, multi-phase, multi-year project also improves the quality of life for people outside of planned neighborhoods. The installation of sidewalks on Simmonsville Road continues with two installation of sidewalks on Simmonsville Road continues with two more phases. Buck Island Road sidewalks and lighting were to be completed this summer.

  • Goethe-Shults Sidewalk & Lighting: The sidewalks in this neighborhood connect with those in the Historic District and the other neighborhoods, businesses and retail stores. Estimated cost: $1.2 million. 

  • path4Don Ryan Center For Innovation: The Town’s innovation center now has a permanent home in Buckwalter Place Commerce Park. This state-ofthe- art, office-sharing facility called “The Hub” offers innovators in the region a resource center as well as a place to work. Recently completed. Estimated cost: $509,499.

  • Martin Family Park: Known as an “outdoor living room,” the park is named after Ida and Jacob Martin for their decades of community service. Located on Boundary Street, the park is an open space and has outdoor chairs for community events. Estimated cost: $1.1 million.

  • Buckwalter Place Park: Located in the $4.2 million Buckwalter Place Commerce Park, this public facility was recently completed. The public park is also the home to the Bluffton Veterans Memorial and an inclusive, accessible playground providing space for people of all ages to gather outside the Historic District.

  • New Riverside Park/Barn Site: The Town bought this property and is now developing a master plan for it. It will provide a public park in the New Riverside area, one of the fastest-growing areas of Bluffton, and include parking, trails, playgrounds, public restrooms, utility infrastructure, and a renovated barn on the property. Estimated cost to develop the plan is $325,000.