CITY GUIDE 2021: Bluffton’s Mayor Lisa Sulka

Lisa Sulka was elected mayor of the Town of Bluffton in 2008. She is on the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton’s Advisory Board and is Honorary Trustee of the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Classic Foundation. Sulka answers questions from Monthly about upcoming projects in the town and her favorite spots in Bluffton to relax. The responses have been edited for length and clarity.


1. What is an upcoming development project in Bluffton that you are most excited about and why?

One of the most anticipated projects in the Town’s Capital Improvement Program is the New Riverside Park and Barn. This is the first town-park in the fastest growing area of Bluffton. The Town purchased the 37-arce parcel from Palmetto Bluff in December 2018, and it is zoned for a “passive park.” This will be a place for neighbors to gather and events to be hosted.

2. Do you have a personal favorite place in Bluffton to relax or enjoy activities?

My favorite places in Bluffton are inside my kayak in the tidal creek between Palmetto Bluff and the Calhoun Street Regional Dock or in my golf cart with my husband, John, and my dogs, Doc and Poo, watching the sunset at the Wright Family Park.

3. The Don Ryan Center for Innovation opened at Buckwalter Place in the past year. Why do you think the Don Ryan Center benefits Bluffton and the Lowcountry region?

The DRCI, equipped with the latest office technology, is available to regional innovators. Since 2012, it has been a leader in regional economic development and is an incubator of local innovators. The HEROES Program is the newest program within the Center. The program is designed to support businesses owned by first responders or former/active military personnel. The DRCI is still a resource hub for local companies which have been affected by the global pandemic. I invite any business owner to call the Center and inquire how its staff members can be of service.

4. Are there any aspects of Bluffton that visitors may not be aware that are worth exploring?

Bluffton is a treasure trove of personalities and places. The Garvin-Garvey House, located in Oyster Factory Park, is the house of a freedman and his family. This house represents the incredible story of Cyrus Garvin who reinvented himself after being formerly enslaved. The Town will soon begin rehabilitating the Squire Pope Carriage House, located at the Wright Family Park. The Sarah Riley Hooks Cottage is also on the Town’s radar as another rehabilitation project. If you want to meet a living legend of Bluffton, I recommend visiting “The Store” on Calhoun Street and chatting with its owner, Babbie Guscio. She is full of Bluffton ‘lore.

5. How do you envision Bluffton’s growth in the next five years?

What are some of the town’s main goals? Bluffton is poised to continue to grow in the next five years. Currently, the Town is about 76% built-out in residential communities and 38% built-out in business centers. Town Council has its eye on economic development, workforce housing, environmental protection, and public safety. Bluffton and our region can’t have economic prosperity without affordable housing for employees. Our residents and guests can’t enjoy water-based recreation and delicious seafood without environmental protections. Our historic preservation is what makes Bluffton unique; however, preservation is not always an easy process. Bluffton residents, leaders and staff members want to continue riding this wave of success and we need the community’s support in all the above issues and your awareness that issues work together like puzzle pieces.