Hilton Head to address the casual use of public property near Mathews Drive

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Hilton Head to address the casual use of public property near Mathews Drive

By DANIEL BROWNSTEIN dbrownstein@islandpacket.com 843-706-8125
Published Saturday, June 20, 2009 in The Island Packet  |  448 Words  |  news/local

A landscaping company stores piles of debris, stones and wood pallets on town-owned land next to the narrow, flood-prone side streets off Mathews Drive, just beyond Port Royal Plaza.
Nearby, another business has placed its Dumpster on public property.
Cars and trailers stick out, sometimes halfway into the narrow alleys, impeding passage, especially after a rain, when water pools in the middle of the road.
In the coming months, the Town of Hilton Head Island will crack down on illegal parking and the misuse of public land around Mathews Drive, beginning with a neighborhood meeting to explain the problem and, it is hoped, offer some solutions.
Town Council authorized the plan Tuesday. The time and location of the meeting haven't been announced.
The targeted areaincludes Oak Park Drive, which is behind Port Royal Plaza, and Mingo Way, Cooperative Way, Electric Avenue and Thompson Street, all located near Palmetto Electric Cooperative's headquarters and Mid Island Plaza.
The town acquired the rights-of-way and the formerly private roads in 2007, about the same time officials began moving major improvements to Mathews Drive.
"They've got huge parking issues here," said town manager Steve Riley at a meeting to brief the Town Council earlier this month. "What we're talking about is developing a program to try to shoehorn in some on-street parking safely, but not so some guy's (Ford) Crown Victoria sticks out halfway into the road."
Town officials believe they can convert about 100 informal parking spots into 70 safe, clearly delineated parking spaces, with most of the loss coming along Oak Park Drive, according to town engineer Jeff Buckalew. Because the roads used to be private, the parking spots were never approved by the town.
Some employees of Port Royal Plaza park on the lawn along Oak Park Drive behind the shopping center, rather than the center's front parking lot, where open spots are plentiful. Town officials want to stop that so they can spruce the area up with landscaping.
Businesses throughout the area should have plenty of room to store their supplies, rubbish and vehicles on their own property, officials said, but there's bound to be some backlash.
Riley said the town will work with businesses and will direct its code enforcement officers to write tickets only after other options have been exhausted.
Once the parking issue is tackled, plans call for about $500,000 to be spent in 2012 to re-pave Cooperative Way, Thompson Street and Mingo Way, improving drainage at the same time. Electric Avenue will be paved for the first time.
"We need to make an investment in the area," Riley said. "These roads are in terrible shape."