Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Park & Rec seeks input on new park near Limehouse Bridge

Donated land on banks of Stono River could connect to Greenway and saltwater paddling trail

Posted by Paul Bowers on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 1:18 PM

  • Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission will host a public workshop Wednesday to seek input on a future park being planned near the Limehouse Bridge in West Ashley.

The public input meeting will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the West Ashley High School cafeteria, with a presentation beginning at 6:45 p.m. CCPRC Planning Director Julie Hensley says officials will share the results of an ecological analysis of the site at the meeting.

"We want to hear what people are interested in seeing there," Hensley says.

The 85.5-acre tract sits along the bank of the Stono River between West Ashley and Johns Island and could include a connection to the West Ashley Greenway terminus, which is 300 yards away from the site. The park could also become an access point on the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail, which runs from Chesapeake Bay in Virginia to the Georgia-Florida border.

  • Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission

The tract includes 25.3 acres of highland, 48 acres of marsh, and a 12.2-acre marsh island. A developer had plans for the land before the 2008 housing market crash, but after a bank foreclosed on the property and then the bank went under, Charleston residents Jenny and Mike Messner, along with partners Betsy and Paul Shiverick, bought the property at a bargain for conservation purposes, Hensley says. The Messners' Speedwell Foundation then donated the land to the CCPRC in December 2012 as part of the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Red Fields to Green Fields initiative, which seeks to acquire financially distressed properties and conserve them as parks.

Hensley says there is no timetable for the park's completion yet. She says the focus will likely be on creating a "passive park," with more of a focus on enjoying nature than on, say, baseball fields or a waterpark.

"Each of our day parks is strongly based on passive activities, although they have components that are active," Hensley says. "Water access and visual access to the water are always really important when we look at properties."

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