Even though we might like to erase this past year, it is important to recognize the many positive things that occurred in this town.

Two over-reaching projects focus on providing resources for the community:

• We approved a Small Business Economic Resiliency Plan for the Don Ryan Center for Innovation to provide the local business community a resource clearinghouse.

• The Town produced a map of nonprofit, helping agencies that provide resources to local families who are experiencing financial and food challenges during the pandemic. You can find this map online by searching “storymaps Helping Agencies Providing Assistance.”

While we have been operating under less than normal conditions we continued forward on many of our capital projects:

Wright Family Property: Across the street from the historic Church of the Cross, the park offers a boardwalk, a large central lawn, walkways, parking, landscaping, lighting, fencing, public restrooms and spectacular views of the May River.

Calhoun Street Regional Dock Enhancement Project: The removal of the existing public dock and building a larger, more accessible regional dock. The public dock has been located at the end of Calhoun Street since the early 1800s and has been central to the town’s commerce and economic health, bringing products and people to the center of town for centuries.

Buckwalter Place Park/Bluffton’s Veterans Memorial: The more than 1.5-acre park site is composed of open space, an inclusive playground, a walking path and café-style outdoor furniture.

Oscar Frazier Park/“Field of Dreams” Sidewalk Installation: We installed approximately a quarter mile of concrete and oyster shell sidewalk around the perimeter of grassy area of Oscar Frazier Park.

Buck Island-Simmonsville Community Sidewalk/Lighting project: We installed the final phase of sidewalks on Buck Island Road with 1,100 linear feet of 5-foot wide sidewalks. The project also includes the installation of street lighting.

Buck Island-Simmonsville Sewer Project: Phase 5: This is the last phase of this project and frees dependency on septic tanks for these properties.

Historic District Sewer Project/Phase 1-Pritchard Street: This first phase includes installing 2,550 linear feet of main sewer lines and will service 25 properties with houses and four additional undeveloped lots. This will also retire 25 septic tanks, a process known as “abandoning septic tanks,” so they pose no further threat to the local environment.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation Hub: The new 3,000-square-foot center offers a co-working space for innovators and DRCI members. This business center features gigabit high-speed internet, Apple iMac and Windows computers, AutoCAD/design software, high-definition large panel monitors for presentations/workshops, meeting rooms and whiteboards.

Regional Stormwater Standard: The Town partnered with Beaufort County, Jasper County, Town of Port Royal, City of Beaufort, City of Hardeeville, and Town of Yemassee to develop a regional Southern Lowcountry Post Construction Stormwater Ordinance and Design Manual to protect the region’s coastal waterways. This coordinated effort will assist developers with parallel stormwater regulations and management standards throughout the region.

Additional accomplishments include:

Town creates Law Enforcement Advisory Committee: Town Council appointed 11 citizens from the greater Bluffton area to advise the Bluffton Police Department regarding community concerns.

Toy Drive: Bluffton Police Department collected toys during the eighth annual 2020 Town of Bluffton Toy Drive. Officers were also able to purchase 37 bicycles for children in Bluffton, thanks to numerous monetary donations the department received during this drive. Additionally, Bluffton’s school resource officers identified specific students in their schools who needed help with Christmas and purchased specific wish-list items for those students.

Reverse Christmas Parade: The Town hosted its annual Christmas parade the first Saturday in December as a “reverse parade.” This  concept enabled Bluffton’s holiday tradition to stay alive while incorporating health and safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth Community Service Award Ceremony:  The Town hosted the fifth annual Youth Community Service Award Aug. 11. The Mayor’s Bluffton Youth Community Service Program recognizes high school sophomores and juniors for their volunteerism to the Bluffton community during the past year.

We couldn’t have done half of this (and even more that isn’t listed) without the help and hard work of our staff and input from our many residents. I hope you all have a healthy and happy New Year and I look forward to all the positive things to come.

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton. lsulka@townofbluffton.com