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Highway 17: Landscape groups have no plans for paved median

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

When the asphalt is ripped up from the median on Highway 17 in Pawleys Island, the Litchfield Corridor Beautification Committee will be ready to landscape the newly grassed space in the northern end of the project area.

“We didn’t think it affected us, but it does have a small effect,” said Tom Leis, president of the group.

The median project, which is still in the engineering stages, will replace the paved median from the North Causeway to Baskervill Drive with a raised grass median. The section between Martin Luther King Road and Baskervill Drive falls into the beautification committee’s maintenance area.

The group is waiting to get a better idea about the design of the project before it comes up with a landscaping plan, but “if you’re talking to somebody and it comes up, the answer is, we will take care of our section,” Leis told committee members earlier this month.

However, no one has claimed responsibility for landscaping the rest of the project area once the asphalt median is gone. The issue was raised at a County Council meeting this week, when funding was being approved for landscaping. One of the recipients was the Pawleys Island Highway Beautification Program, which was formed in 2008, to landscape and maintain medians starting at the South Causeway and heading south.

Council Member Bob Anderson asked if that group would be responsible for the median to the north once the asphalt is gone. Told no, he asked if that group or the Litchfield group planned to adopt it.

If the project goes forward, “my best guess is that one would probably seek funding” for landscaping of that area, said Will Dieter, who chairs the county’s Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee.

“That’s kind of a no man’s land,” said Gary Griggs, treasurer of the Pawleys Island group. “I’m sure the state and whoever is working on the median would love to have someone step in, but until the economy improves, it will be a tough sale.”

Not enough details of the project have been set to say anything for sure, but Bern Sweeney, president of the Pawleys Island group, said he’d like to see his organization adopt that area — if businesses along the corridor would be willing to support the beautification work with donations.

“We’d like to see it done well,” he said.

The group had to scale back its original plans for beautification, which would have taken place in three phases and gone all the way to the Georgetown bridge, as a result of difficulty coming up with funding. The lack of businesses in the area south of Allston Plantation that would benefit from beautification there, makes fundraising extremely difficult. Sweeney expects it would be easier for the area between the North Causeway and Martin Luther King Road.

The group has so far focused its efforts on the 1.6-mile area between the South Causeway and Allston Plantation, and has raised $85,000 in community contributions over the last three years, in addition to accommodations tax grants. Most donations came from individuals and homeowners groups. The group also has an annual golf tournament.

The group wants to have hydroseeding done, but plans have been stalled by permitting delays related to drainage.

“We cut back the weeds and there was bare ground,” Griggs said. “We want to level it off there and hydroseed to give it some green color.”

Permits were applied for in July, but approval from the state still hasn’t come in.

A meeting to get additional public input on the project to replace the paved median is set for next week.

The meeting is a drop-in from 5 to 7 p.m. April 5 at Waccamaw Elementary School and will offer a first look at proposed locations for median breaks and traffic signals.

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