Volunteers, Palmetto Pride join to help in Beaufort

in Voices by

Too often we look to government for all the answers and to pay all the bills. While that might be nice, it is not possible. We are small city, composed of about 13,000 citizens classified by the Bureau of the Census as moderate to low income. We have great pride in our special city, but we also have limited financial resources.

Furthermore, for some public assets to be improved, it is healthy for the citizens to have some skin in the game.

A good example is the transformation of Southside Park, a former sewer treatment facility, into a neighborhood and community treasure.

The city taking on a new 37-acre park around 2004 was ambitious and, accordingly, is taking longer than many of us wanted because the proposed estimated $2.5 million plan was more than the city could afford.

Adding to the challenge was that once the city took over the site, we found tons, literally tons, of trash, construction debris and rubble buried underground that had to be removed.

No doubt every project has its surprises, but the community came together as part of our “Great American Clean-up” project, and members of the Beaufort Parks & Tree Advisory Commission, the Beaufort Public Works Department, volunteers and students from the Beaufort High Interact Club, National Honor Society and ROTC all joined forces investing a total of 200 hours to collect about 3,000 pounds of debris from Southside Park.

Using a generous grant from our state Palmetto Pride organization, we bought four steel waste receptacles, two of which were set inside the dog park and the other two in strategic locations near buildings in Southside Park and the public restroom. Total cost for the receptacles was $2,497.

Finally the city Parks Department moved in, prepared the land and installed fencing for the dog park, which is finally completed. A grand opening will soon be scheduled. We hope you will help us celebrate.

This leads us to a second example of collaboration for the public good. Fortunately, the Palmetto Pride grant funds allowed us to buy three pet waste stations, eight cases of liner bags for the new waste stations and the 12 already installed along the rails-to-trails Spanish Moss Trail. Total cost for this pet waste solution was $2,381.

Furthermore, the Rotary Club of the Lowcountry donated another six pet waste stations for the Spanish Moss Trail.

Once installed, there will be 18 pet waste stations along an almost 10-mile stretch of the popular walking and biking trail.

The Spanish Moss Trail is a great gift from the Cox Family, which owns Clarendon Plantation; the Paths Foundation out of Atlanta; and the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail with significant support from Beaufort County, the city of Beaufort and the town of Port Royal. Protecting it is our responsibility and fortunately, volunteers are coming through with commitments to keep it clean.

Every year, the city of Beaufort fields complaints about pet waste, particularly in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park and along the Spanish Moss Trail. We must do more to educate our community and visitors about how animal waste pollutes our waterways and can have health consequences for marine life and humans.

A good first step, though, is to make it easier to properly dispose of dog waste throughout the city, including the Spanish Moss Trail.

Thanks to our Palmetto Pride grant, the Great American Cleanup, and the help of our community, Beaufort is a cleaner and more attractive place to live and visit.

Billy Keyserling
Mayor, city of Beaufort