Thursday, August 22, 2013
Roughly 100 people toured the Ashley River Park site Saturday during the second property walk-through.
The park is located at the intersection of Bacons Bridge and Reniken roads.
Members of the county Parks and Recreation Commission and other volunteers guided citizens around the property. Tours concluded at the pond where they gathered to hear a presentation on the proposed park plans as designed by Thomas & Hutton.
The park plans were constructed using public comments and feedback from the first property walk-through, which was held in March.
The new plan, what Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Jay Byars called a “first draft,” includes a dog park, 15 camp sites, an amphitheater, a reception hall, multiple picnic areas and two playgrounds. There will also be fishing piers installed on the pond and kayak launches installed along the river.
All of the park amenities are designed to be a five-minute walk from the main parking area.
Bruce Boysen, planning and landscape architecture department manager from Thomas & Hutton, presented the plans to citizens. He explained the plans were designed to blend with the natural elements of the property.
“This is a passive park so we will only be making a minimal touch on the land,” he said. “There will be no game fields, for example. This park is just for walking, camping, boating, fishing, biking and similar activities.”
The “light touch” continues throughout the design, using pervious, eco-friendly materials to pave roads and natural materials such as mulch and pine straw to create paths.
Boysen assured guests that all of the designs were created in accordance with the Ashley Scenic River management plan, which is designed to preserve the river and its wetlands.
While the presentations crowds grew, the attendees were quiet. Most nodded their heads in approval, and those who voiced concerns were provided answers they seemed to find satisfactory.
“We’ve generally gotten very positive feedback,” said Rita May Ranck, who represents District 4 on the Parks and Recreation Commission. “People seem to really like the plans. This is something the community really needs.”
She continued, saying the only concerns she’s heard have come from those who live in the adjacent subdivision, Summerville On The Ashley, which will share Reniken Rd. with the park as an entry point.
Attendees were asked to leave their comments with the commission in order to further shape the plans.
Boysen explained the procedure forward: “We are out here with a plan so everyone has a chance to see it and comment again. Then we can make changes and move on determining what will be in Phase 1 and do cost estimates. That is this fall. Then the goal is to have the first phase open next spring.”
The site’s ready-made qualities – it was previously owned by a developer who added water and sewer lines, cleared trees and created road beds – were what attracted the county to the property, as it would be ready for public use sooner than other properties that need more construction.
“This is smart government,” said commission Chairman Byars. “We are using government time and money to increase peoples’ quality of life. That’s what we should be doing.”