Beaufort County officials say they're ready to consider landscaping improvements to medians along newly completed sections of the Bluffton Parkway, now that the entire three-mile section between Burnt Church Road and Buckingham Plantation Drive is finished.
County administrator Gary Kubic told County Council members Monday that maintenance costs could influence the approach to the project.
"Now that (the new section), which was split into two parts, is complete from A to Z, we will take a look at landscaping and its associated maintenance costs from A to Z to come up with some proposals," Kubic reiterated Tuesday.
A roughly one-mile section of the parkway between Burnt Church and Malphrus roads opened in April. The 1.6-mile section between Malphrus Road and Buckingham Plantation opened Monday. All told, the project took about 18 months and cost about $11.6 million.
For much of the parkway, median strips that divide the four-lane road feature carefully manicured grass, ornamental plants, palmetto and other trees, and various shrubs and bushes.
Medians on the new sections have spotty grass, weeds and little else.
Money for the landscaping would likely come from the county's reforestation fund, composed of fees paid by developers who don't adhere to the county's tree requirements. That fund has about $298,000, said David Starkey, the county’s chief financial officer.
While initial costs will be covered from that fund, ongoing maintenance likely won't be.
"What we are focusing on and what we are emphasizing is the continuous maintenance," Kubic said.
Those costs go beyond basic watering, fertilization and upkeep. The new plantings could also necessitate additional manpower, to keep them looking good, or new equipment purchases, he said.
Council Chairman Weston Newton reiterated Monday the importance of making sure the region's "gateways" look good.