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On Nov. 29, the Hardeeville City Council held its annual retreat to review the projections for future growth and to set goals for 2019 and beyond. These goals will be reviewed and adopted by the Council in early 2019 and I’ll report the list in an upcoming column.
Optimism remains high as the city continues to pursue new opportunities for residential, commercial and industrial development. Based on projections from current residential developments, the city’s population is expected to rise from 5,967 on Jan. 1, 2018 to 30,648 on Jan. 1, 2029. This is tremendous growth and the city is reviewing new projects that could add to that number.
But 10 years is a long time and economic fluctuations are unpredictable. So, let’s take a look at the next five years. By Jan. 1, 2024, Hardeeville is projected to have 19,775 residents. That’s a number we can surely expect sometime in the mid-2020′s.
These new residents will come mostly from Sun City, Margaritaville, Hilton Head Lakes, Hearthstone Lakes, Ardmore, University Park (near USCB), and the new East Argent communities. Geographically, the increase will come along the U.S. 278 and Argent Blvd. corridors.
These are all great neighborhoods but they do not address a critical housing need for the city and the region — affordable workforce housing for our families. The city needs to encourage the development of homes and rentals for teachers, police, firefighters and all types of trades, including the sons and daughters of Hardeeville who have finished their schooling, are starting careers and families, and want to stay in the area.
As I have reported earlier, I am chairman of the Southern Low Country Advisory Board (SoLoCo) and I serve with fellow mayors, council members and county council members from Hilton Head Island to Ridgeland. Affordable workforce housing has been the topic of our study this fall, and as a result of these valuable insights, I have asked the city and the council to form a Work Force Housing Commission to help formulate a strategy to solve this very complicated problem.
I have received advice from our friends in Bluffton on the make up and goals of the commission, and it is my hope to have the initial meeting in the first quarter of 2019.
Busy holiday season
The holiday season has already been busy. The first ‘Battle of the Badges’ on Nov. 30 was a great success, raising more than $3,000 for the local chapter for juvenile diabetes research.
The fire department was a juggernaut and defeated the police in a fun game. Chief Sam Woodward has vowed revenge next year but the firefighter’s youth and training regiment will be tough to overcome. And the residents of Hardeeville can rest assured that fires will be dealt with quickly as the men displayed their lightning quickness. It was a great event.
The first week in December saw two wonderful traditions that have come to make Hardeeville special. On Dec. 4, the third annual Seniors Luncheon was held at City Hall. Seniors from Sun City and Hilton Head Lakes served home cooked entrees and sides to 82 guests from the Jasper County Senior Centers in Hardeeville and Robertville. Gifts and raffle drawings added fun to the meal and everyone left content in both body and soul.
The next day was the Sun City pick up for Santa’s Toy Box. Santa and his many elves stopped at 12 neighborhoods and collected more than 1,000 toys. The outpouring of generosity was overwhelming and that will make Christmas merry for lots of Hardeeville children.
New to the event this year was participation in the Hardeeville Elementary School “Angel Tree” program where participants from Hampton Point and Sun City donated gifts to specific children to help Santa fill their wish list. It was especially heart warming to deliver bags of toys to the school the next day. A team of elves showed up at the school on Dec. 11 to wrap hundreds of presents for Santa to give.
I’d like to thank everyone throughout the city of Hardeeville for once again donating to this happy event. Please know that the Public Works Department collected with good cheer in spite of the work load that still awaited them on their daily rounds.
Both of these events in a very hectic week were magnificently organized yet again by four very special Hardeeville ladies. Our new Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Jennifer Combs has been a great addition this year and as always, our City Clerk Lori Pomarico was there for our every need. Council Woman Carolyn Kassel and Mrs. Mayor Beth Williams collaborated yet again to make the season bright for all of us.
Capping off the week was the annual Christmas Tree Parade hosted by the Greater Hardeeville Chamber of Commerce and followed by the tree lighting festivities at City Hall. The weather outside was frightful but a good time was had by those jolly souls who braved the rain and cold.
It was another year of progress for Hardeeville and 2019 promises to be even better. Thanks to everyone in our wonderful city for supporting the work of the city staff and your City Council.
Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Harry Williams is the mayor of Hardeeville