16 May Response to letters about Boundary Street
Response to Dr. Henry’s Letter: Boundary Street plan unworkable
Dear Dr. Henry:
I understand your concern and the inconvenience you may face going to and from your clinic on Boundary Street. For that I am sorry, but I also see the brighter picture of a completed redo of the Gateway to Beaufort.
For ten years, over the course of three city councils and two mayors, the City of Beaufort has been planning the Boundary Street Redevelopment Project. The project is currently about 20 percent complete.
From the beginning, there were numerous public planning events to which every property owner in the Boundary Street Redevelopment District was invited along with other Beaufort residents to share ideas about making a safer, more environmentally sound, and economically appropriate gateway to the very special place we call home. Planners listened to the public. They developed and created a conceptual plan. The plan was presented to the public on multiple occasions.
Based on public comment and legitimate concerns, the conceptual plan was tweaked and significant changes, not the least of which was the removal of traffic circles at Ribaut and Boundary and Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary. Additional traffic signals were installed to ensure more densely populated intersections would be appropriately served. Wider lanes, adjacent to traffic signals where U-Turns are planned were established to accommodate a safe turning radius. And after years of conversation with the City, the owners of the cemetery have agreed to remove the unattractive fence and have it replaced with one that is more fitting.
During the planning period voters from across Beaufort County passed a referendum to create a temporary sales tax to pay for road and safety improvements across the County. Boundary Street was one of many of those projects and the funds collected from the sales tax are paying about a third of the cost. Furthermore, the City and County, again in the public eye, applied for and were awarded a federal grant that funds a little more than a third of the cost. And finally, the City’s Tax Incremental Finance District, established years ago, was developed to put restricted dollars in the pot to cover the final third of the investment.
You are a Beaufort native. You own property and operate a business on Boundary Street, though west of the project. At one point, a real estate broker representing your property, approached the city asking if your property could be included in the plan.
Accordingly, you appear surprised by the project and are asking questions that have been answered throughout this extended process. And now you write yet a second letter to the editor demanding we stop in place which is absolutely impossible. Had you taken the time and interest to listen and participate you would have been listened to and your ideas may have made a difference.
As to the specifics you referenced, if you look at the plan you will see that a new, simpler to navigate and much safer intersection at Boundary and Robert Smalls. This allows drivers to cross Boundary and access the Walgreens, Chick-Fil-A, the Bank and other businesses from the rear; thereby mitigating the impact of the median and lessening the needs to sit in a suicide lane waiting to dart across traffic to make left turns. You would also understand the additional traffic signals and safe U-Turn capacity. Also, you would understand that the unsightly usage power poles adjacent to the road will be buried, be more aesthetically pleasing, not take up pedestrian space and not present a danger to cars that swerve off the road causing accidents and outing electric power to businesses.
The redevelopment of Boundary Street is a very complicated project and, as I have said multiple times, it will create inconvenience to some. We are making every effort to minimize the inconvenience, ensure safety and get the project completed as quickly as possible and on budget. We are making progress.
We appreciate your patience and understanding. If you have a specific need, please let us know so that we can try to address it.