Treehouse, bridge across inlet proposed for mid-island park

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Treehouse, bridge across inlet proposed for mid-island park

By TOM BARTON
tbarton@islandpacket.com
Published Thursday, October 25, 2012   |  548 Words  |  

Scott Liggett's fondest memories as a boy were family trips to Sea Pines, where he would swing like Tarzan on a split-level treehouse built around a live oak.

Now, as Hilton Head Island's public projects director, Liggett might get to see his favorite play object, which was later torn down, rebuilt at a mid-island linear park.

Island architects, land planners and artists sketched and presented drawings Thursday at Town Hall of some of the features proposed for a 1.5-mile-long park that would stretch from Collier Beach to Shelter Cove.

One of the most conversation-generating components was a drawing by local artist Wayne Edwards for a new split-level treehouse with an observation deck designed similar to the Harbour Town Lighthouse.

"It was very cool being up in the tree canopy and running around, taking in the view and feeling connected to nature," Liggett recalled during the planning meeting. "Kids loved it."

The treehouse would be built around a live oak on town property beside the sculpture of a family of horses, town urban designer Jennifer Ray said. A pedestrian bridge at the adjacent Broad Creek inlet was sketched Thursday as a potential link between the sculpture area and town-owned property at the former Cracker Barrel site off William Hilton Parkway.

Edwards designed the Sea Pines treehouse, along with two others in Palmetto Bluff. He also designed the Neptune statue at Shelter Cove Harbour.

"This will create an anchor piece for the park and icon indelible of Hilton Head," Edwards said of the treehouse.

Town Council has made the park one of its top priorities, and Mayor Drew Laughlin has urged the town to start planning it. The town faces a December 2014 deadline to commit about $13 million to public-works projects. About $2.3 million of the money, captured from a tax-increment finance district, has been slated for the future Chaplin Linear Park, Liggett said.

About $200,000 is available in the town's current budget for design work. Another $400,000 has been budgeted to build a beach park. And an additional $400,000 has been set aside for a boardwalk that would cross The Folly and lead to new parking and restrooms off Burkes Beach Road.

The linear park likely will be developed in phases, town officials said. The work schedule has not been set.

Liggett said the town intends to put out a request for design services next month and start construction as soon as possible.

Mark Baker of Wood and Partners, a landscape architecture and planning firm involved in the redevelopment of The Mall at Shelter Cove, praised the treehouse idea.

"Many of us remember the Sea Pines treehouse fondly," said Baker, who participated in the Thursday's planning session. "It appeals to the kid in all of us, getting up in the trees."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

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