By BRANTLEY STRICKLAND
The only thing missing from Friday’s official ribbon cutting of the City of Walterboro’s Downtown Arborscape project may have been some chamber of commerce weather.
But the cool and blustery conditions didn’t seem to put a damper on the spirits of smiling city officials, as the city’s million-dollar renovation of Downtown Walterboro was officially unveiled.
“We have a downtown area that says we take pride in our community, a downtown area that makes a great first impression and leaves a lasting impression,” Walterboro Mayor Bill Young said as he addressed the crowd assembled at the corner of Washington Street and Jefferies Boulevard. “We’ve got a downtown that we can show with confidence to potential investors and business prospects — one that will entice travelers to come into town, shop in our stores eat at our restaurants, stay at our hotels and return to visit us in the future. We have a town center that will be enjoyed by our citizens for many years.”
The project, financed partly by a $350,000 grant from the Colleton County Transportation Commission and $722,000 of city accommodations tax funds, represents the first major revamping of Walterboro’s Downtown area since 1985.
Two months of construction included the replacement and cleaning of sidewalks, the refurbishing of crosswalks and the repaving of the streets.
Young said the project entailed the planting of 82 new trees, the use of 350 cubic yards of concrete, 50,000 bricks, 900 tons of asphalt and 9,000 square feet of cypress mulch.
The finished project also added a number of additional parking spaces on East Washington Street near the Colleton County Courthouse, where parallel parking spaces have been replaced by diagonal spaces similar to the ones located on the South Walter Street side of the courthouse and near the waterfall plaza.
Young, offering special thanks to workers from J&S Construction for their “courteousness to local businesses and citizens” during the construction process, called the arborscape project a collaborative effort on the part of city council and staff as well as downtown merchants.
“We’re very thankful for the cooperation of all of our businesses,” Young said.
All in all though, the city’s new-look downtown likely can’t be measured in financial figures, something Young alluded to.
“Our former economic development director was very fond of saying that ‘Disney spent billions to recreate what we have right here,” Young said. “A slice of vintage America.”