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Hardeeville has high hopes for bike trail

Hardeeville’s vision to unite the various smaller communities throughout the city took another step toward reality at last Thursday’s City Council meeting when Hardeeville’s parks and recreation director Addison Jarrell presented the finalized plans for a bike and pedestrian trail that would run across the city.

The multipurpose trail aims to connect downtown Hardeeville at Millstone Landing, Sgt. Jasper Park, Sun City, and the Savannah Wildlife Refuge, with more than 64 linear miles of trail.

The finalized trail stretching across city limits, in theory, would also have sections that belong to current existing trail networks. About 30 miles of trail would join the East Coast Greenway — a trail that stretches from Maine to Florida; 20 miles of trail would join the existing network of trails at Sgt. Jasper Park; and 12 miles would join USCB’s Sand Shark Trail.

The trail network would be a fully paved trail that will flow with the nature of the landscape, twisting and curving, going up and down hills, and would include signs to direct pedestrians and users.

It’s designed to be flexible and have small branches that extend to further, less connected areas of the community to reach as many people as possible. For example, one of the offsetting trails along the Sgt. Jasper section will lead all the way to Hilton Head Lakes.

Jarrell and Alta, the company that partnered with Hardeeville to design the trail master plan, based their design on the existing Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville.

Different small businesses scatter along the Greenville trail, which adds to the overall economic impact, and Jarrell thinks that could be duplicated in Hardeeville’s trails. Jarrell hopes to partner with local businesses close to the trail to help finance the overall construction.

“This is going to be a very long plan to implement, but the implementation is very important,” said Jarrell.

He mentioned partnering with Coastal Carolina Hospital for some of the trail that circles around the hospital.

If the hospital would agree to help finance the trail, the city would allow the hospital to put their logo and advertise along the trail. A similar proposal was presented to USCB.

“This is near and dear to my heart. I really want to see something started with this path and bike trail that the city can do and it’s not going to cost us a fortune,” said councilwoman Carolyn Kassel. “I think that the city would benefit so much from getting a portion of it started so the people could see what the potential could be in other areas and what they can look forward too. It can’t get here fast enough for me and I would love to see — we can’t do all of it, I’m very well aware of that — but I would certainly love to see us focus on making some part of it sooner than later.”

A big concern among council members was funding the overall cost of the plan. The five-stage project’s initial projected cost is $7.1 million.

Jarrell said he hopes to utilize A-Tax funds as well as public grants, and sponsorships to build the trail network.

Upon completion, the city would have one trail system that connects the entire city.

Millstone Landing renovation discussed

Hardeeville issued an RFP to find qualified developers to renovate Millstone Landing.

After receiving eight responses, the city adopted a resolution to enter into a contract with Witmer-Jones-Keefer (WJK), of Bluffton, to develop a master plan for development at Millstone Landing.

WJK projected a cost of $20,900 to construct a master plan. The city plans to have WJK meet and talk with users of Millstone Landing to get valuable input for how to renovate the property.

Jarrell hopes the planning period takes around three months to develop a master plan and from there the city can begin looking at execution of renovations.

The goal is to make Millstone Landing a more family friendly place to visit.

“In approving this the council has to have the resolve to follow through on a master plan in doing something there,” said Mayor Harry Williams. “A concern we all need to have is obviously with funding. It’s going to come with a big price tag and were going bring up A-Tax money again. I bring this up because this cannot be done in a vacuum with all the other plans we have including bike and trail. What’s more important? I’m ready to vote for this and follow through on it and that’s what I’m trying to say to this council, we have to be ready to follow through.”

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