10 Oct Guess what I got a letter about from a visitor?
The following is a letter I received over the weekend from a woman who visited her parents after they retired to Beaufort. If her message was not heartfelt should would not have taken the time or interest to write since we do not know each other and she wrote the letter to my website. I understand her passion for nature and like her would encourage others to take the master gardeners class and learn all we can about why our special home is so special and what we can do to protect it. Here’s the letter and my response.
I spent 38 years visiting my parents who retired to Beaufort to fish and garden in 1979. My father, a former research scientist and naturalist, introduced me to the natural wonders of the woods, rivers, marsh adjacent to their home. I hope every person who is unfamiliar with such a special environment takes a class, takes guided tours by people who respect and love this unique area. More city is not an addition. I hope you will limit growth as too many people make a city out of a hometown!
Thanks for taking the time to write and share your appreciation of the special place we call home. I agree with you, but the answers you seek are not so easily realized because there are four governments charged with Beaufort today and tomorrow.
If you study the City of Beaufort which is only 13,300 moderate to low income residents you will note that over the past decade or more, we have done a lot of planning to preserve and build on what we have and not become “Anywhere USA.”
The City of Beaufort’s Civic Master Plan” (http://www.cityofbeaufort.org/civic-master-plan.aspx) shows how the City’s principal growth focus for many years to come is to grow on the physical framework that makes our historic city so important. We believe we can grow with upon our existing streets, stormwater assets and hometown character without clear cutting trees, father interrupting established watershed and cut rather than increase pollution. We believe that through in fill and redevelopment we can reduce traffic by making our community more walkable and bike able and will continue to make these transportation modes safer. This is not to say that our transportation and stormwater systems, most of which are owned by, but not maintained by the State of SC, do not need serious upgrades and repairs since severe flooding is a reality during storms and heavy rains and tides from our river and creeks are rising though slowly. The city has abandoned the practice of random land grabbing through annexations though we have undeveloped properties already in the city which will be developed and there are commercial cores growing due to the expansion of development on areas outside of the city, most specifically Ladys Island which currently has more residential dwellings and a higher population that the city of Beaufort. When people open up new areas for tract development like they have done on Ladys Island the retail will follow regardless of the jurisdiction. Given the city annexed portions of Ladys Island we are filling in what are called donut holes to make service delivery more efficient for our businesses, our citizens and our businesses.
All this being said, the City can and will only do so much. And that fact is that we need to grow and we need most importantly to grow jobs so that those who grow up here can return to make a decent living, raise their families and contribute to the community. While retirement living and tourism are drivers we need not abandon, if we are to remain authentic we need for all three sectors to grow at the same time as we support the important military presence and jobs Beaufort has celebrated over the years.
The way to accomplish what you seek is to bring all four of the cities municipalities and the County Council together through intergovernmental agreements and planning which we have been trying to do. In many cases it is working though perhaps not as quickly or as seamlessly as one would like but what more can you expect when five governments, all elected by their respective citizens, try to blend many different entities each with its own unique brand and set of circumstances into one. I do not think we want vanilla but the cooperation sought through shared zoning ordinances, regional collaboration through joint planning is better than most places you will find.
If you have the time and interest, I know the preservation organizations from the Beaufort County Open Land Trust, the Coastal Conservation League, Historic Beaufort Foundation, the Sea Island Corridor Coalition to name a few could use your help. That way you could be part of the solution.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that cities must grow to remain fiscally, environmentally and culturally sustainable. If we don’t grow, we die. And if we die we lose all hat we believe is so special. So the answer, as we ae seeking is growing the right way.
By the way, once completed, I believe out total renovation of the gateway into Beaufort speaks volumes about blending our past and future, our built and natural environment and unyielding efforts to make Beaufort an ever better place to live and visit.
Thanks again for writing. I always love to hear from other Beaufort Lovers. I also love trying to explain that the Beaufort I grew up in and will die in will never be the same as we remember. If it was there would be no future for the next generation who will one day face the tough decisions about which you and I are addressing.
Best wishes and please come home to visit. You may be surprised by some of the good things happening in the your adopted hometown.