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Woods Bridge crash reminds us there’s no traffic plan

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Oyster Bluff construction photo

Photo above: Walmart’s coming. So are more F-35’s and D.R.Horton homes — as pictured here last week at Oyster Bluff. But where’s the traffic plan?

By Bill Rauch

Last week a pick-up crashed on the Woods Bridge and knocked the bridge out for a day. As Port Royal Town Manager Van Willis likes to say: “When the Woods Bridge is down it’s chaos over here.”

“Over here” is the Port Royal approach to the McTeer Bridge, the only way on and off the islands when the Woods Bridge is down.

Never mind that the Beaufort mayor’s blog said the city council was “smelling the roses” last week. Good for them. The rest of us were bumper to bumper in the chaos and smelling one another’s exhaust.

Sure, the 1971 classic swing bridge is going to go down once in awhile, and there’s going to be some chaos. That’s not the problem.

The problem is new rooftops are going up fast on Lady’s Island, and there’s no action plan that addresses how the additional 2.4 cars per house will get across the Beaufort River. No plan. Not even a glimmer of a plan. The plan, if you can call it a plan,  is that there will be increasing chaos.

Let’s be clear. This issue is not new. There have been plans. Several.

Forty-six years ago in 1971, for example, the South Carolina Highway Department promulgated the BEAUTS (Beaufort Area Transportation Study) Plan that called for a by-pass — or “ring road,” as they call such things in Europe — all the way around  Beaufort, including a bridge at Brickyard.

But the powers that be at the time found the Brickyard portion of the plan infeasible. Bridges are costly, right?

Then, a generation later back in the late 1990s the Beaufort County Council member who then represented Lady’s Island, Mark Generales, got motivated. Standing up for his constituents, he said the afternoon traffic off the Woods Bridge in the afternoons was “intolerable.” 

The McTeer Bridge, Generales proclaimed, must be four-laned.

Never mind that the South Carolina Department of Traffic’s engineers, the county’s in-house traffic experts, and the Beaufort City Council all expressed their preference for the bridge at Brickyard instead, Councilman Generales had his way and the parallel bridge at McTeer was built only to find that the experts had been correct and that with the extra lanes available on the McTeer Bridge corridor there was no appreciable effect upon the situation at the Woods Bridge.

About that time Generales exited the scene and the city of Beaufort called for $5 million to be put on Beaufort County’s 2007 penny sales tax referendum for studying, engineering and buying right-of-way for a “third Beaufort River crossing,” wherever the experts that the county hired said it should be.

That penny tax measure passed and the county’s traffic consultants got with SCDOT and took another look at the situation. 

What they concluded was, surprise, that the solution to the Carteret Street/Woods Bridge/Sea Island Parkway congestion is to build a bridge at Brickyard and an improved corridor that would connect Sams Point Road to U.S. 21 just west of the Air Station.

Why? Because many of the occupants of the cars who cross the Woods Bridge are residents who live in Northern Beaufort County’s largest bedroom community, Lady’s Island, and who work at Northern Beaufort County’s largest employer, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

These people twice daily, and the million visitors a year to Hunting Island, and others would take the Brickyard Bridge.

Moreover, with more jets on the way the area’s largest employer is getting larger all the time. 

And with more houses being built on Lady’s Island there will be more homes there to accommodate the newcomers.

All they have to do is get there.

By the way, since the current Beaufort City Council has placed its top priority on business development, “traffic counts” are good for business, but traffic is not — which translated means one of government’s key responsibilities to the private sector is to keep the cars moving.

The 2009 study cost $500,000 and Beaufort’s mayor and council — in fact some of the same members who were smelling the roses last week — stood by in silence in 2010 while the other $4.5 million of the penny sales tax money that had been allocated to the third Beaufort River crossing was spent on road improvement projects in Bluffton.

So where does that leave us now? 

When there was resolve to build a bridge, for political reasons it was built in the wrong place. 

And now — irrespective of the pressures that are greater now than then — it appears there is insufficient resolve to put a bridge where for the past 46 years the traffic experts have been saying it should go.

Accordingly, with respect to traffic in Beaufort, it appears today there is nothing ahead except more.  

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Ummm … what was your name again?

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By Lee Scott

One of the most uncomfortable situations for many us is attending an event and not being able to remember the names of the people you see. 

You walk into the room and right away someone greets you by your first name and your mind is a blank.

But there is good news! 

Many people are in the same boat. We find ourselves struggling to come up with a person’s name knowing full well we cannot recall it.  

Fortunately, my spouse and I have our “I don’t know their name routine.” (I know other couples have their own method.) If I am chatting with someone and do not introduce him right away, he will put out his hand and introduce himself. This gives the other person a chance to introduce himself while I stand there innocently playing the “Oh, I thought you two had already met” look on my face.  

To complicate the problem of forgetting people’s names, I have added another twist. I assign names. There are so many men and women who remind me of someone else. My girlfriend Donna looks like Jennifer Gray from the old “Dirty Dancing” movie. 

Joanne, my mail carrier, was Jackie to me for a long time until one day when she corrected me. How embarrassing. 

However, I was lucky when it came to my spouse’s name. The first time I saw him, years ago, he was in a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner with a young blonde on his arm. I thought he looked like “Bond. James Bond.” Fortunately, his name is James and the young blonde is long gone.

According to medical websites, some doctors believe we do not remember names because we are so busy during the introduction observing the person’s features, body language and other characteristics that we dismiss the name part. Maybe that is why I am so quick to assign a name. I am too distracted focusing on who they look like and miss hearing their actual name. 

But my favorite assigned name was Alice, whose real name was Maureen. She was a waitress at a restaurant we frequented for many years in Annapolis. She went along with her new name, although it would confuse other customers. Maureen was always “Alice” to us and would serve my spouse a mean martini saying “Bond, James Bond. Shaken, not stirred.”   

Sometimes, you can have fun forgetting someone’s name. 

Business watchdog faults Beaufort on crime

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By Bill Rauch

It is always a pleasure to hear from readers, especially when they get what you’re writing about and add to it a new dimension.

That happened last week.

After reading my recent column about the proposed Jasper County wind farm and its possible effects upon upcoming economic development efforts in Beaufort County a reader sent me the Palmetto Promise Institute’s April 2017 South Carolina Enterprise-friendly Cities Report, a first-of-its-kind analysis that ranks the state’s 50 most populous municipalities from the point of view of their attractiveness as a place to start or relocate a business.

The report is an eye-opener.

It finds Bluffton to be the state’s most enterprise-friendly city. Hilton Head is No. 7, right between Greenville and Spartanburg, and Port Royal comes in a respectable 14th behind Lexington.  

Where’s Beaufort? Way back in the pack at No. 33.

Yes, Southern Living named Beaufort “The South’s Best Small Town for 2017.” Their reasoning was full of squish like “enchantment” and “intoxicating” and “can’t turn a corner without swooning.” 

Moreover, the great contemporary Southern writer, Cassandra King, who wrote the Southern Living piece reminds her readers that love, home and family — all abundant in Beaufort — are what matter most.

The Palmetto Promise Institute is not convinced. These guys are all business. They looked at the numbers. And one in particular is not at all enchanting. 

Of South Carolina’s 50 most populous cities, according to the report, Beaufort ranks third in “per-capita violent crime.” 

If 100 is a perfect score, Beaufort got a dismal 9.51 in this category and that way-worse-than-failing grade dragged Beaufort’s “Community Allure” and overall scores way down.

In all the areas Beaufort was graded as a business-friendly town, “per-capita violent crime” was by far its worst.

Regular readers of this column will recognize this issue. Beaufort now has the same number of sworn police officers it had in 2007, but they are being asked to respond to three times the dispatch call volume they were a decade ago. 

That means the officers on duty have no time to engage in what policing experts call “community policing,” which is when police officers get out of their cruisers and proactively talk to people and get to know who’s who and what’s up. In fact, the Beaufort PD now isn’t even getting to some of their dispatch calls, police brass who are familiar with the particulars say. They are instead calling on Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies to cover for them, especially on Lady’s Island.

Beaufort was the drug-dealing capital of Beaufort County in the mid-1990’s when Mayor David Taub and City Manager Gary Cannon insisted that enough officers be hired so that a community policing program could be instituted under Chief Bill Neill. Over the next few years the drug-dealers — and the violent crime that follows them — were run out of Beaufort. But in the past half dozen years, however, both have returned.

Southern Living may not know that yet, but the bean counters at The Palmetto Promise Institute do.

If, as the City Council says, making the city attractive to new businesses is high on its priorities list, then it’s time to stop spending the city’s tax dollars on real estate and new programs, and time instead to start hiring police officers.

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Yard sales are a sign that spring has sprung

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leescott.Ceramic Frog

By Lee Scott

It has begun! Spring has arrived and with it the annual ritual known as the “yard sale.”

This tradition has been going on for years. There may be some serious bird watchers who will disagree with me and say the sightings of the first ruby-throated hummingbird or the black-and-white warblers are the real indications of spring. But they are wrong.  

It is the sighting of the first yard sale sign.  

Oh, the beauty of the large black letters outlining the address, date and time; and better yet, the signs that read “Neighborhood Yard Sale.”  

Spring is the time of year for people to come out of their winter hibernation.  Neighbors and friends vie to get the best bargain, especially at those large block yard sales. 

These community sales make sense as neighbors combine forces for advertising and pull in many customers, like me.  

But I have learned through the years that the advertised hours at most yard sales are rarely honored. A recent yard sale I attended which was supposed to have started at 9 a.m. was already well in progress when I arrived a few minutes after 9. People were walking off with $25 bicycles, $10 Christmas trees and $5 lamps. I also noticed some serious shoppers double teaming so they could spread out and do reconnaissance for one another. Man, I wish I had thought of that idea.

As it is, there is nothing I really need, but the pull of the yard sign sale is too much for me.  

One week ago, I found myself turning my bicycle around the moment I spotted the yard sale sign. 

“Oh,” I said to myself, “I’ll just browse.” 

The ceramic frog sitting in my front garden is evidence that I did not just browse. How could I say no to a $5 item? And it did not matter that I was without cash on me because my girlfriend Chris was right there willing to loan me the $5.  

Karma. I was destined to own that frog. Even my spouse was seduced recently when he spotted a yard sale sign that said “All tools must go.” 

So, despite the migrating birds, Passover and Easter, the true universal sign of spring is here. Grab some cash, take your car, and get out there.  

But be careful when driving around neighborhoods. There are cars making sudden U-turns and stopping abruptly, and after all, that car may be yours.

Beach deprivation is hard on the soul

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hunting island.lee scott

Photo above: Hunting Island State Park is currently closed due to damages from Hurricane Matthew. Officials hope to reopen the park by the end of May. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

By Lee Scott

My friend Bonnie was over the other day and mentioned she was suffering from “Beach Deprivation.”  

“Can’t you sleep?” I asked.  

She shook her head and said, “Beach deprivation, not sleep deprivation.”  

Of course! 

We are all suffering from lack of beach. It has been six months now since we all scooted out of town and left poor Hunting Island State Park to take the beating. 

How many of us are suffering the same affliction as Bonnie?  We were so used to just jumping in the car and running down there for a walk. Or getting up early and having the beach to ourselves? How many of us took it for granted that our beach was always going to be there?

But it is deeper than just missing the beach. My father used to say that one must stand on a beach at least once a year and breathe in the ocean air. 

There is something so fulfilling about looking out at the ocean. Originally from Rhode Island – the Ocean State – I have such an affinity for beaches. Maybe this is the reason why during the past six months, I have had the need to visit other beaches. 

In a way, I am cheating on Hunting Island, but the roads are closed and the signs are up, and so I had no other choice.

There was the trip up to Kiawah Island to “watch a marathon,” but truthfully, I just wanted to walk the beach. Then there was the trip to the Florida Panhandle with a quick overnight stop at Miramar Beach. Oh, even the Gulf of Mexico breeze felt good that day as I walked barefoot through the sand.  

Those were fun walks, but I miss Hunting Island. 

I miss watching the sunrise when I was out turtling. I miss seeing the old trees that look like sculptures spread out in the sand.

Yes, Hunting Island State Park. I am as beach deprived as Bonnie Wright, past President of the Friends of Hunting Island. 

But we volunteers will be there once again, when the gates open to help support in any way we can and try not to take you for granted ever again. We have shovels, chainsaws and whatever other tools are needed to clean up the park. We just want to get in there again! 

In the meantime, like Bonnie, we all remain beach deprived.

Avoid unlicensed clinics offering unapproved stem cell therapy

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By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

Stem cell therapies are getting headlines for their potential to cure diseases, including those that affect vision. But an important message is missing: the therapies are not yet proven to be safe and effective for your eyes.

Stem cell treatments appear to offer hope to people with few options to recover vision. This includes people with forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and Stargardt disease. 

Some clinics across the United States offer “stem cell therapy” to people outside of clinical trials. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the treatments they offer. These treatments often use unproven products that may be ineffective or dangerous. These products may carry serious risks, including tumor growth.

Questions to ask

It is important that you know that there are no stem cell products approved by the FDA for eye disease right now. 

If you want stem cell therapy, look for a clinical trial and discuss the matter with your ophthalmologist. A clinic should not expect you to pay thousands of dollars for an unproven, unapproved therapy. Your health insurance will not cover the cost of an unapproved treatment.

Before agreeing to a stem cell treatment, ask:

• Is the stem cell treatment approved by the FDA?

• Is the stem cell treatment part of an FDA-approved clinical trial?

• Is the stem cell treatment covered by your health insurance?

It is frustrating and frightening to face the loss of vision while waiting for potential treatments. However, choosing to pursue an unproven treatment in an unlicensed clinic is an unacceptable risk to your vision and your overall health.

Dr. Mark S. Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology on Ribaut Road. Visit www.seaislandophthalmology.com.

Jasper’s new solar farms will cost us bundles 

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solar farm

By Bill Rauch

Where did all these liberals come from? I don’t recall their saying anything about their liberal proclivities when they were running.

Last week’s announcement that a Virginia-based solar energy company called Dominion will spend up to $100 million to build two solar generating facilities in Jasper County this year is sure to spark a renewed fight on the Beaufort County Council over whether to join the SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance.

Why? Because the SouthernCarolina Alliance is credited with putting the Dominion/Jasper solar deal together. And the economic development consortium has long unsuccessfully lobbied Beaufort County to join their group. 

Their defenders will use the good news of the new clean industry in Jasper to ratchet up the pressure on Beaufort County to join.

The solar farms will create about 200 one-time construction jobs, according to Dominion’s press release.

The SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance currently works with five counties — Jasper, Hampton, Allendale, Barnwell and Bamberg. As the fee to join the group is based on each county’s respective population, if Beaufort County joined it would immediately be providing more revenues ($175,000 per year plus a $20,000 origination fee) to the group’s coffers than all the other counties combined.

Detractors ask: “Would Beaufort County receive in exchange more than half Alliance’s efforts?” 

Whether to join the SouthernCarolina Alliance has been a quiet but deeply divisive issue on Beaufort County Council for the past several years. Most of County Council’s Southern Beaufort County representatives favor joining the group while all the representatives representing districts north of the Broad River have expressed misgivings. 

It has been only Hilton Head Island-based Council Vice Chairman Jerry Stewart, who has said he’s opposed to joining, and Bluffton’s Tabor Vaux who has been on both sides of the issue who have withheld the key votes that have to date stopped the county short of joining.

But with the Alliance’s board member State Sen. Tom Davis, Alliance Associates member TCL President Richard Gough, and Alliance Advisory board member Ed Saxon lobbying the county this budget season, that may change. 

The glamorous news of the solar farms next door will inevitably be trotted out. 

Or the tipping point may ironically be provided by the county’s newest economic development entity, the Beaufort County Economic Development Corp., which was set up to do the work they would instead ask the Alliance to do. They would not, of course, put themselves out of business. They say they will instead wait until their new executive director is hired, and then ask County Council for more funding so that they can bring in Alliance.

Here’s the hotbed of liberalism. Why? Because traditional conservatives say take the economic development money and roll back business license fees, or property taxes, or a combination of the two. 

Take a hard look at unnecessary regulations too. Getting out of the private sector’s way is what will create jobs.

The liberal solution is the opposite: increase taxes to pile programs on top of programs intended to find ways to create jobs.

Let’s do the numbers.

The Beaufort County Economic Development Corp. will ask the four Beaufort County municipalities for $10,000 each from their FY ’18 budgets, and they want a $140,000 state Commerce Department grant protected with which to help pay their new director. The county will be asked to pitch in more to support their operations, but we don’t know exactly how much yet. Then they will ask the Beaufort County Council to spend the nearly $200,000 to join up with Alliance in FY’18.

Lest we forget, the local governments already help fund the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, the city of Beaufort owns and operates the failed Beaufort Commerce Park that has been a famous million dollar sinkhole.

That’s not all. 

Recently the city of Beaufort spent another million-plus dollars to purchase a downtown building into which to put its new Digital Corridor incubator that will be managed, for an additional handsome fee, by Charleston’s Digital Corridor. That effort’s defenders say it’s too soon to judge, but to date results there have been sketchy at best.

There is undoubtedly more.

With budget season approaching it is reasonable to ask how many tax dollars the local governments ought reasonably be spending to bring in business? Do the past results justify the future expenditures? Would the dollars being spent be more productively spent on essential services like law enforcement, fire, EMS, refuse removal or mosquito control? Or, horrors, tax relief?

These are questions to ask our recently-converted liberal friends.

While listening respectfully to their answers watch carefully their hands.  

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

When should folks start ‘acting their age?’

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By Lee Scott

Recently, I had the opportunity to go spiraling down a six-story waterslide called the Howlin’ Tornado screaming at the top of my lungs with a young 7-year-old who had persuaded me to join him. 

First, we had to climb six flights of stairs and when we arrived at the top we climbed onto a large inflatable raft.  Once we were settled and holding on, the attendant pushed us into a swirling tunnel flooding with water. 

What joy and laughter! We landed in a pool at the bottom where we high fived one another. 

“What a blast!” I yelled, to which my companion responded, “Let’s try another one of the slides!” and off we went with equal enthusiasm and joy.

Afterwards, my husband asked, “Aren’t you a little old for water slides? Shouldn’t you be acting your age?” 

The remark stunned me because it had never dawned on me not to go on the waterpark slides. 

“Act my age.”  

I had not heard that line in a long time; maybe when I was about 10 years old. 

“Oh,” I said, “is there a sign on the entrance to the waterslide that says you must be over 48 inches tall and less than 62 years old?”  

What “Aging Life Rule Book” is out with the title “Act your age?”

The incident reminded me of an old “Twilight Zone” episode from the early 1960s. (Yes, I am old enough that I remember watching.) 

It was about a group of residents in Sunnyvale Rest Home who snuck out at night and played kick the can, a game of their youth. The main character, Charles Whitley, believed that he has discovered the secret of youth: playing children’s games. When the group walked out through the front gate, they became children again, playing, running and laughing. Yet when they returned to the home, they were old again.

It is strange to be thinking of that show now that I am one of those seniors, still wanting to go out and play kick the can, shrieking and laughing like I was with my 7-year-old friend who said, “Come on. Let’s go.” 

Thank goodness it never occurred to my grandson Finn that someone my age should not go on the Howlin’ Tunnel.  

As for acting my age, I think I will continue to play “kick the can” until someday when it will be a bucket I kick instead of a can.

Ring Tum Ditty: Ah, the food of our youth

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By Lee Scott

One rainy and chilly Sunday evening recently, I was enjoying a hot chicken and broccoli casserole dinner with my spouse.  

After he was finished, he announced that my casserole was much better than “Ring Tum Ditty.” 

“What in blazes is ‘Ring Tum Ditty?’ ” I asked, thinking he had just made it up.  

“Check the Internet.” he suggested.  

I did a search and sure enough, there were multiple recipes for Ring Tum Ditty. How had I never heard of it before? Let me educate those of you who have never heard of Ring Tum Ditty. 

The recipe follows:  Open a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and pour into sauce pan with a half can of milk (you never use a measuring cup when cooking with Campbell’s soup). Heat it up. Then chop up some of your favorite cheese (my mother-in-law would add Velveeta cheese) and melt it in the hot soup. Once the cheese melts, pour the soup over toast and serve.  

Talk about an easy meal to prepare.

We then started to reveal other “favorites” our mothers would put together. My mother’s easy family dinner was called “Glop.”

This was made by browning a pound of ground beef in a frying pan and then adding a can of Campbell’s Onion Soup. It was then served over white bread.  “Mmmmm, mmmm, good!”  

Another dish his mother made was called “Momma’s Muck.” This delicious (sic) sounding dish consisted of pouring a can of Tomato Soup over browned meat and cooked noodles, topping it with cheese, and heating it for 15 minutes. I’m thinking 25 minutes from walking in the door to sitting down to dinner. 

My personal “easy mom” dinners were different. I would come home from work and announce it was time for breakfast. Nobody ever complained about pancakes and sausages at the dinner table. Oh, there was the occasional can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli too.  

Let’s face it, we all need a break sometimes.  

It seems like young families today do not have dinners like Ring Tum Ditty, Momma’s Muck or Glop anymore. 

It is just as easy for them to stop at a fast food restaurant or order a pizza for dinner.  

However, as it turns out I still find myself pulling out that old familiar red and white can. You see, the sauce in my chicken and broccoli casserole that night had been made using Campbell’s soups.  

Our moms would have loved it.

Time to get out front on the pathways

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This map shows all the sidewalks presently on Lady’s Island. Most but not all of these are separated from the cars on the street by just a 10-inch curb. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County Planning Dept.
This map shows all the sidewalks presently on Lady’s Island. Most but not all of these are separated from the cars on the street by just a 10-inch curb. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County Planning Dept.

By Bill Rauch

These will be struggles, but they are struggles worth undertaking.

The residents of Lady’s Island want a path or paths, something along the lines of Beaufort’s Spanish Moss Trail. They have now said that loudly and plainly.

Yet no master plan for Lady’s Island has called for such an improvement. There is no obvious corridor, like for example an abandoned railway corridor. And there’s no money in anyone’s current or proposed budget for such a thing.

This is an effort that begins right at the beginning … right at zero. Thus it is not for the faint of heart.

Yet the potential benefits are enormous: increased property values, better public health, improved quality of life, increased tourism and a stronger and more cohesive community to name a few.

Having heard the call, Beaufort County’s planners have quietly begun working on a plan for pathways on Lady’s Island. Soon we will see a draft plan, parts of which will undoubtedly have merit. Meanwhile, the city of Beaufort, which under the Northern Area Plan will have the responsibility of enforcing the plan, either hasn’t yet heard the call, or has declined to acknowledge it.

That’s probably because the Beaufort City Council knows it will cost whoever steps up with both time and money.

But it is past time for the city to step up for Lady’s Island. That doesn’t mean the city should go it alone financially. It shouldn’t. But it is time for the city to begin providing some leadership.

Here’s a scenario for the upcoming budget season.

Let’s break out the revenues provided to the city’s treasury from Lady’s Island: property taxes, business license taxes, prepared food taxes.  

Add the three figures up and subtract from that sum the city’s reimbursement to the Lady’s Island/St. Helena Fire District. What’s left is roughly what the city is putting into its pocket from Lady’s Island.

Then let’s add a line to the city’s fiscal year 2018 budget: “Implementation of the Lady’s Island Pathway Plan,” and ascribe to it a portion (15 percent?) of what’s left in the pot after the fire district gets paid.

Now the city’s actually got some skin in the game. People notice these things — especially government people. A modest commitment will bring with it modest credibility, which means people start paying attention. That’s when government gets beyond the talking stage and the real stuff starts happening.

But where to start?

The city should begin by staking out the position that the SCDOT should get off its current dark ages of the 20th century posture of replacing the Harbor Island Bridge with a bridge that has no hiker/biker walkway. Beaufort County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville will be right there with the city. State Sen. Tom Davis and the legislative delegation will surely come along too. 

It’s common sense. Why should Beaufort County have to pay for the bridge’s walkway out to one of the state of South Carolina’s signature parks — a park that is by the way growing in size, not shrinking.

The county should not have to pay. The SCDOT should pay for their bridge, including the part people walk and ride bikes on. And they would without a struggle in just about any other county in the state. 

But this is Beaufort County where Hilton Head Island is. So there’s going to be a struggle over who pays. 

Why should the city be in the forefront of the struggle? It is in the city’s interests that there be a good and safe hiker-biker path from the Woods Bridge to Hunting Island State Park.  

When the great path is finally built, and bike clubs from all over the Southeast come here to take that extraordinary (and no hills) ride through history, where will they sleep? In Beaufort’s hotels.

That’s just the beginning.

Now, having put the team together, the city should turn the team’s attention to choosing which portion of the Lady’s Island Pathways plan is the most popular and most doable, and then get to soliciting the state, the county, the SCDOT’s intermodal offices, private foundations, individual donors, and, yes, even the federal government to join the city in supporting Lady’s Island’s Pathway plan.

That’s how projects like these get built: with steady leadership, over time, a portion at a time, with many hands working — and egos buried — and many funding sources contributing.

Lady’s Island’s pathways and the trail to Hunting Island are good projects. They are worthy of the governments’ interest and support. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

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