The Town of Edisto Beach received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Bay Creek Park project. Officials were presented with the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 72nd Annual Meeting on June 30. The town won in the 1-1,000 population category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
When tourists visit Edisto Beach's beautiful Bay Creek Park to fish, picnic or enjoy the waterfront vista, they never would guess they were standing on a previously derelict and environmentally contaminated site. A public-private project spearheaded by the Town of Edisto Beach overcame numerous challenges to turn the once undesirable property into a public gathering place that is an asset to the community.
In 2006, when the Town of Edisto Beach purchased 247 feet of frontage property along Big Bay Creek, town officials inherited an almost insurmountable challenge. There was actual and perceived contamination in the tidal wetlands; a site configuration that made redevelopment for a park almost unworkable; and the area was prone to flooding. Town leaders faced numerous regulatory hurdles to redevelop the property.
Edisto Beach used a conservation grant, a voter-approved general obligation bond and a sizeable donation from the property owner to acquire the site. Next, town officials contracted with an environmental consulting firm knowledgeable in Brownsfield remediation. Edisto received a Brownsfield grant through its local council of governments to help fund the cleanup. The remediation involved extensive cooperation between town officials, consultants, the public and regulatory agencies.
Edisto Beach officials sought public involvement throughout the project, from conception to completion. Community members were involved in decisions regarding property purchase, site design, remediation and potential use. Together, they transformed the site into a public space complete with a dock for fishing and crabbing, boardwalk, picnic tables and a vast open area. The park and its amenities were designed to showcase Edisto Beach's shrimping heritage.
The imaginative public space also provides deep-water access to the creek while enlarging the area protected by the region's ACE Basin Land Protection and Enhancement Plan. It provides the area with additional venues for recreation including important public access to Big Bay Creek's marshes and bays.
Involving the community promoted ownership from the public's point of view and helped build the framework of volunteerism for maintaining the park as a showcase property on Edisto Beach.
Today, Edisto Beach officials and residents continue to work together to maintain the park and plan for future growth.
"Edisto Beach officials had a clear mission to provide residents and visitors to the island a place for recreation, fun and a place to learn about the town's history," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website ( 
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit Association of incorporated cities and towns dedicated to raising the standards of municipal government through a broad range of services.