CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The city of Conway held a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning for the Chestnut Bay Resiliency Project.

The project aims to address flooding concerns and enhance the communities’ recreational spaces.

Conway’s former public works director, Kevin Chestnut, was honored for his dedication to the city.

“It means a lot after seeing such repeated flooding in Conway,” he said. “Just always wanting to do more for the residents that were impacted.”

Chestnut realized one day that the city owned enough neighboring plots of land to create something that would hold additional floodwater in the area.

City officials said Chestnut’s ability to see things others didn’t is the main reason the project is where it is today.

“He was such an asset to the city,” Deputy City Administrator Mary Catherine Hyman said. “He made such a difference in the city’s economy. A lot of people couldn’t see it was with our infrastructure with our streets, with our stormwater. This was his idea and it’s amazing to see it come to fruition after all the hard work.”

“Oftentimes, we don’t come to recognize the value of an individual until it’s too late,” Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy said. “His presence here, his name on the sign behind me just means the world.”

Chestnut’s idea led to a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to bring in a nature-based engineering firm — Robison Design.

“It’s projects like this one that will help South Carolina conserve its natural beauty and make our state more resilient to future weather-related challenges,” said Joy Brown, an official with the South Carolina Chapter of Nature Conservancy.

The idea started to become a reality in 2021 after Conway acquired a $2 million grant. The project will be the first wholly natured-based solution in South Carolina.

“That’s what’s so amazing about this project,” Hyman said. “We’re not just building a stormwater pond with a chain link fence around it, we’re going to make it something that the city can enjoy.”

“We get the best of two worlds,” Blain-Bellamy said. “To bring life back to this place and to bring nature back to this place. Both serving humanity is, I think, the best solution that we could ever come up with.”

The grant is split into two phases.

Currently, the Chestnut Bay Project is in phase one, the engineering part. City officials say construction likely won’t begin for another year.

However, Conway’s deputy city planner hopes both phases will be finished by 2027.

* * *

Savannah Denton joined News 13 in July 2023 as a reporter and producer. Savannah is from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. Follow Savannah on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here