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The Town of Edisto Beach received a Municipal Achievement Award for improvements to its public beach access points. Officials were presented with the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 73rd Annual Meeting on July 20. The town won in the 1-1,000 population category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
The improvements to Edisto Beach's 38 public beach access points began in 1994, when officials committed to renovating two per year. The project's goals were to provide beachgoers safer and more convenient access to the beach and to make the town eligible for state funds that are awarded only to municipalities that meet standards set forth by the Beachfront Management Act of 1991.
Each public access is a road terminus that was deeded to the town in 1975. During the 18-year project, officials collaborated with many groups in the community-nonprofits, businesses and resident committees-to upgrade the access points to meet state standards.
Each access point had its own characteristics, but almost all of them were being encroached upon by private property. Officials worked with property owners to delineate boundaries. Another concern officials addressed was the health of the nearby dune system. Where appropriate, the town constructed dune walkovers to protect critical areas.
Funding came from a combination of grants and local taxes. Plans for each access point evolved over time, and although each one received upgrades, no two are alike. Better parking and reflective signage accommodate Edisto Beach's day-trippers. New rope fencing, as well as trash and dog waste receptacles, protects the coastal ecosystem. The town installed safety stations to educate visitors about seaside dangers like riptides. Volunteers constructed bike racks and beach-viewing benches.
"Getting to the beach in the Town of Edisto Beach is easier and more enjoyable thanks to the town and its residents who had a long-term vision and saw it through to the end," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
Achievement Award winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.