Last Week’s Highlights!

21 Feb Last Week’s Highlights!

Last week was a big week in our special little city!

One highlight was a site visit by representatives of the National Park Service - Southeastern Regional Office in Atlanta. The team reported they have started work on interim promotional materials. They presented to Penn Center and the Beaufort Visitors Center the official NPS Passport Stamp.  If you are NPS fan and have a “Passport to National Parks,” you can get yours stamped today at either of the sites.  Furthermore, we talked about a celebration in the spring and community planning sessions perhaps as early as this summer.
Another high point of the week was the unforgettable 11th Beaufort International Film Festival. Likely the largest attendance, BIFF is growing through reputation and a new collaboration with USCB and SC Educational Television. Thank you Ron and Rebecca Tucker as well as volunteers who work to make the festival  such a success.
Thursday Penn Center hosted Young Leaders of Beaufort which is always inspiring to the students as they explore the 50 acre historic landmark district and learn our county’s unique history.
At the quarterly meeting of the Point Neighborhood Association, City Public Works Director Lamar Taylor gave a presentation on storm water and other projects soon to be underway on The Point.  Dr. Al Panu, Chancellor of USCB and Dr. Eric Skipper, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs reiterated USCB’s commitment to growing the historic campus.  While the presentation was short on details, awaiting the completion of USCB strategic planning, we learned a master degree in Arts Education is in the future.  Point Residents responded expressing strong support for growing the historic campus and are cognizant of concerns over how growth can impact adjoining neighborhoods.
Tuesday morning I shared my thoughts with members of the Ladys Island Business and Professional Association about challenges and opportunities on Ladys Island which must be addressed by the residents, the County Council and City of  Beaufort in collaboration. Don’t miss the Community Planning Session at Ladys Island Elementary on February 23rd.
On Wednesday I attended the Beaufort Interfaith Council where, among other good ideas,  we began to talk about the possibility for stimulating community conversations about race and how to celebrate diversity rather than sweep it under the rug. More to come.
I attended the community meeting where engineers presented conceptual recommendations for addressing traffic congestion along Sea Island and Ladys Island Parkways. The suggestions are based on hard data and will need strong collaboration among county, city and state officials.  That said, I believe before more concrete/asphalt is laid at a large expense (can’t be done without federal dollars in my view) we need to update the Ladys Island plan so that we can see ahead to prevent future challenges.
Past solutions, including widening Sams Point Road and the second McTeer bridge costing somewhere in the vicinity of $50 million inadvertently made congestion worse on Ladys Island and in Port Royal.
Before we invest more, traffic management must be integrated into a long term plan. And not just be another band aid. This is a huge challenge requiring collaboration between the City, the county and the state hopefully with federal support.
I spoke with the newly formed Beaufort Restaurant and Hospitality Association and shared my personal view that we need to strengthen our product (improve the already good St. Helena History Center, Beaufort History Museum and other cultural institutions that need to grow) and introduce my long desired view of Beaufort becoming a wellness destination.  All of this would give us longer stays by visitors as opposed to those who are in and out like lightening benefiting from all we have to offer.
Reconstruction partner organizations met as a group and individually with NPS Official who were in town to talk with representatives of the Naval Hospital, Brick Baptist Church and Penn Center to talk about what to expect in the coming weeks and months.  I showed them some of the many sites outside of the formal monument
The Young Leaders of Beaufort gathered at Penn Center for our February meeting. Given the timing of the announcement of the reconstruction era monument, and the fact that some of the students testified at the public hearing and were supported by classmates at the historic occasion in December, this year’s visit to Penn had special significance.
Exec Director Doctor Rodell Lawrence also presented plans for some new educational experiences around agriculture for students in the future.
Last Wednesday at the City’s monthly Neighborhood Improvement Committee meeting at City Hall,  Bluff Resident and YMCA Board member Pete Palmer talked with neighborhood leaders about whether there might be support for a Community Center in the downtown area, perhaps operated as a small community based YMCA.
I am very much in support of this initiative which those of you have read in past news posts.  I also know that it is not something the City can sustain and maintain, so for it to come to fruition will take community support either through memberships or donations.
I am again posting a link to the questionnaire in case you missed it a few months back.  If you live in the downtown area, please take this quick online survey about a downtown Community Center.