Volunteer work to beautify city

Photo above: Volunteers plant bushes, grasses and other plants to beautify Duke Street in downtown Beaufort. Photo provided.

Staff reports

Dozens of Beaufort volunteers, including master gardeners, joined the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission recently to plant hundreds of flowering bushes, ornamental grasses and groundcover to beautify Duke Street in downtown Beaufort. 

The work is part of the Redevelopment Commission’s Street-by-Street Infill Initiative, which is focused on Duke Street through Dec. 31. The program includes incentives for property owners to improve properties and build on vacant lots.  

“Seeing people coming together for a common cause, even something as simple as planting bushes, reminds us of how special Beaufort is,” said Mike McFee, a Beaufort City Council member and chair of the Redevelopment Commission’s Infill Initiative Group.  

“We’re basically helping to make over sections of downtown Beaufort with new paint, new landscaping, a small pocket park and other touches,” he said. 

The work on March 27 centered on Duke Street near the Beaufort Housing Authority’s duplexes and the Beaufort Police Department substation. 

The project is a partnership between the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission, Beaufort Housing Authority, Clemson Extension and the Lowcountry Master Gardeners. 

The goal is to create a “model street” and showcase what can be done through public-private partnerships and lots of volunteer effort, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said. 

The planning committee began work on this part of the project during the summer of 2016 and expects to be finished by May. 

On July 1, the project will expand to Washington Street, with some continuation of Duke Street work until the end of 2017. 

“After that, we will focus on a new street each year in the area between Carteret Street and Ribaut Road,” Keyserling said. “This is a wonderful way to reenergize a neighborhood.” 

Before the volunteers showed up, most of the prep work had been done, including having the gardens designed; bed edging installed; beds weeded, tilled and mulched; plants chosen and ordered; unsightly utility lines removed and placed underground; sidewalks improved; brush cleared and trees trimmed; and a small “pocket park” laid out with benches, lawn space and new trees. 

“The volunteers are really the ones who make this happen. We work behind the scenes and bring in any city resources we can, but overall, the volunteers are driving this,” said Jon Verity, chairman of the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission.  

To date, hands-on volunteers for the Street-by-Street Infill Initiative include neighbors and residents; Beaufort Housing Authority staff, board members and contractors; Clemson Cooperative Extension horticultural agent Laura Lee Rose; Lowcountry Master Gardeners, led by Sheila Drouin who designed the landscaping; Cub Scout Pack #1; and the city of Beaufort, including the Redevelopment Commission, mayor and city council, planning department, public works department, police and fire departments. 

Those who have donated goods and services to the effort include Allison Ramsey Architects; Hargray; CenturyLink; Easy Rentals; Lowe’s; J.Weidner Landscaping; Padgett Tree Service; and Scott Sonoc and Marsha Williams providing services of Buds & Blooms Landscaping. 

Police and fire volunteers help with the plantings on Duke Street on March 27. Photo provided.
Police and fire volunteers help with the plantings on Duke Street on March 27. Photo provided.
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