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The Town of Kiawah Island received a Municipal Achievement Award for two waterfront recreational site improvements. 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 public works category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
Officials in Kiawah Island faced an uphill challenge when they decided to improve two waterfront recreational sites in town. Land on the island is some of the most expensive in the state, and environmental restrictions can constrain certain oceanside projects. Officials renovated the sites to ensure public access and safety.
The Kiawah bridge embankment had long been a popular kayaking and fishing area but lacked a safe route to the shoreline. Beachwalker Pond had been originally conceived as an engineering structure but had grown into a popular fishing spot. However, there were no guardrails or boardwalks to protect the public. Realizing the recreational benefit these sites could be for the town, these two projects became a priority for local officials.
The first hurdle officials had to jump was funding. Because the town could not afford to purchase the land outright, officials worked with Charleston County to make the projects eligible for funding from the Greenbelt Program, a land conservation program initiated within the Charleston County Road Wise Program. After receiving the funds, officials faced permitting challenges due to environmental restrictions on coastal land. The town had to receive approval through the county, DHEC's Office of Ocean and Coastal Management as well as the Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board. When the approval process was finally complete, officials collaborated with a construction company to acquire environmentally-sound materials for the projects.
The bridge embankment now features an access plaza with ramp, stairs, kayak-staging area and guardrails. Beachwalker Pond is a fisherman's dream with a boardwalk, benches and rod-holders.
"Thanks to the Town of Kiawah Island's persistence, these two sites are now safer and more accessible for Island residents and visitors," 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.