||Last Updated: Jun 12, 2015 - 9:28:02 AM
|The new military-themed Mount Pleasant Paintball complex opened last month on Clements Ferry Road just down from the I-526 interchange near Daniel Island. The Normandy Landing battle field, shown in this photo, simulates the World War II beach landing and includes replicas of the concrete German “pillboxes” encountered by troops. ||
|The Mount Pleasant Paintball facility sits on 25 acres and features multiple playing fields meant to simulate important battles in U.S. military history, including Vietnam, World War I, and the Battle of Khafji in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of materials used to create the complex come from recycled sources. |
Mount Pleasant resident Ken Glasson’s latest endeavor has him down in the trenches, and he couldn’t be happier.
A retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel with 31 years of service, Glasson opened the military-inspired Mount Pleasant Paintball last month on Clements Ferry Road, just down from the I-526 interchange near Daniel Island. The Mount Pleasant Town Councilmember, who also owns Coastal Wealth Management, is hoping the new recreational offering will educate people of all ages about our nation’s military history while honoring veterans and instilling a sense of teamwork among participants.
“I just don’t believe as a society we really honor veterans the way we should,” said Glasson, while doing some work on the paintball grounds last week.
The idea for a paintball facility came from Glasson’s son, Thomas, and his friends at Cario Middle School. The boys were interested in creating a paintball option that was much closer than the area’s only other facility off Dorchester Road.
“We tried to find some place that would appeal to a crowd in Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island,” added Glasson. “And this is it!”
The boys helped put together the overall plan and Glasson pulled from his military experience to design several realistic battlefields. Participants can experience the Battle of Khafji (an event Glasson took place in himself while serving in Saudi Arabia), the Normandy Landing of World War I, the trenches of World War II, the jungles of Vietnam, the Battle of Allen Brook, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Recently, Jack Parsons, an Allen Brook veteran, came to visit Glasson at his facility. The Allen Brook event was an ambush that occurred during the Vietnam War and resulted in the deaths of 16 men.
“He came out and we were honoring him and letting him interact with the guys,” said Glasson. “The stories he tells, he was in tears walking out there…That’s how you return to the next generation.”
Glasson hopes to one day add a structure that could serve as a gathering place for local veterans to interact with each other, as well as with today’s youth. Current offerings, in addition to the battlefields, include a “chow hall” area designed to resemble an actual military camp, high grade equipment, biodegradable paintballs, and a gift shop. Referees, required at each field, are all trained and certified.
Players are also encouraged to “earn their stripes” by completing an achievement-based rank system. Once they finish a course, such as the Normandy Landing field, they earn the chance to advance and have greater responsibility.
“Running up to your first burm with Concertina wire over it, you’ve got to blast through it and feed a gap and understand how to do that,” said Glasson, of the Normandy Landing field. “During these courses, they have a rank that they achieve…and if they know the history, they get promoted.”
Overall, Glasson said the feedback he has received from paintball participants has been very positive. So far, hundreds of players have hit Glasson’s fields since the business opened in February.
“It’s good,” said James Island resident Lisa Bernesser, who tried out the new facility on March 2. “It’s not very crowded, so the teams are smaller and you have a longer chance to play…. The Normandy field is really detailed.”
“This is my fourth time,” added Matt Rossello, also of James Island. “It’s a lot of fun! The fields are not right on top of each other, and there’s more variety.”
First time paintball player Michele Fitzpatrick of Mount Pleasant complimented the Mount Pleasant Paintball staff for being “very helpful and knowledgeable.”
While Glasson has earned much praise from participants, feedback from a few residents in nearby Beresford Creek Landing (BCL) has not been as glowing. Concerns about noise and potential stray paintball bullets have prompted some to speak out.
“I have awoken on several Saturday mornings between 7 and 8 am to the sound of gunfire, simulated or otherwise,” said a neighbor. “As the day goes on, there has been screaming and other noises commensurate with simulated warfare until sunset. It hasn’t yet been determined whether any of this has been in excess of Berkeley County and City of Charleston noise ordinances, but it has been unpleasant nonetheless.”
“It’s like firecrackers going off and kids yelling,” added resident Steven Schaefer. “...It’s more of a constant - just nuisance that gets to you…It just becomes irritating.”
Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he and his wife plan to move out of the area now that the paintball facility has set up shop nearby.
“That operation is an operation that belongs in a rural location,” he said. “It’s not even legal in Charleston. Because it’s in Berkeley County, it’s allowed. It’s allowed right next to a high end residential community.”
According to one of the neighbors, when a group of residents tried to express their views to Berkeley County zoning officials, they were told they had missed a 30-day deadline to oppose the project.
“We never got the chance to have our issue heard on its merits, and have been told the decision is final unless we get a judge to overrule the county,” he stated. “As you can imagine, that’s a costly hurdle to overcome.”
“I am trying to figure out why normal citizens don’t have a voice in this at all,” added Schaefer, who lives close to woods containing Glasson’s Vietnam-themed jungle course. “They didn’t even hear the pros and cons of the case. We are extremely taken aback…the whole system is not even hearing it…because of this technicality.”
Eric Greenway, director of planning for Berkeley County, explained that the residents’ appeal was not filed “within a timely manner” so it was dismissed.
“As far as we’re concerned, the process is completed,” he said. “…There are provisions in state law for them to take it to a circuit court.”
Greenway encouraged BCL residents and Glasson to work together and communicate their intentions to avoid future conflicts.
Glasson said he has heard the residents’ concerns and feels he has done everything he can to reduce any negative impacts his courses may have on the nearby community. He has installed $4000 in netting around his open fields to keep stray paintball bullets in and there are boundary lines, monitored closely by referees, in his jungle course to keep play within a safe distance. He also stated he has extended the required buffer between his “jungle” fields and the BCL neighborhood by 100 feet. In addition, he has tested firing paintballs from the woods to make sure they do not exit into the residential community.
“At 50 feet, we couldn’t get a paintball to actually pass through (the woods),” he said. “It’s silly for me to think that I would set up a business that would harm the local residents. My goal in doing all of that was to go above and beyond and if I thought I needed (another) net, I would have done that. The county has not required any nets.”
Glasson also pointed out that of the 310,000 paintballs fired on his fields thus far, “not one has ever gone outside the net” or beyond any place they’ve directed within the woods course. While Schaefer expressed concern that some participants might just cross a line and not abide by the rules, Glasson countered that conduct is of the utmost importance at his paintball facility and any breaches will be taken very seriously.
“I am real clear on my rules. We have the right to remove anyone from the field. If someone goes underneath the rope, past our caution signs, and goes to shoot – I will remove them from the course. We’re trying to be in alignment with the military and have discipline and follow orders. It’s a safety issue.”
The group of BCL residents has not indicated as of yet whether they plan to pursue legal options to fight the paintball facility. Greenway said he is limited at this point in terms of what the county can do to address their concerns.
“I’m limited to what the zoning allowance allows me to regulate,” he added. “He’s got the required distances for a buffer guard…we can’t necessarily require him to do additional things. If noise issues are of concern, the community can contact us and we will run whatever tests we need to run, to see if there are violations…We are certainly going to assist the community in any way that we can.”
Glasson is hopeful and confident the new facility will ultimately be a location of pride in the community. He’d even like to add more military components to the fields, such as a repel tower and a zip line. In the meantime, connecting generations, honoring the past, and spending quality time with his son are pretty good rewards.
“When I watch my son, who even helps out with the refs, it’s a point of pride,” said Glasson. “Here I am getting ready to be 50 this next year…you can’t replace that time. My son is 14…In four years, he’s gone (for college). We get to just hang out now and bond. That aspect has been great.”
For additional information, visit www.mountpleasantpaintball.com.
Trailer Park sign raises questions
Soon after the opening of a new paintball facility next to their neighborhood, Beresford Creek Landing (BCL) residents were alerted to a possible plan to bring a trailer park to the area. A sign stating “Future Trailer Park – Taking Reservations,” along with a phone number, was posted along the road leading into the community sometime around February 23.
Mount Pleasant Paintball, which sits on a 25 acre parcel off Clements Ferry Road, is owned and operated by Mount Pleasant resident Ken Glasson. Joe Bartone holds a long-term lease on the land on which Glasson’s complex is located, as well as adjoining acreage in the area. Berkeley County Director of Planning Eric Greenway confirmed it was Bartone who erected the sign, but said no formal applications for a trailer park have been submitted to the county. Greenway said the property is not zoned for a trailer park, but could potentially be subdivided for “a few mobile homes.”
“We made contact with the individual and let him know that it needed to be permitted if it that was going to be placed there,” added Greenway.
When The Daniel Island News called the number on the sign, a woman identifying herself as “Trish” answered and said the trailer park was taken off their agenda after Bartone spoke with a member of the BCL Homeowners’ Association.
“After their discussion, I was instructed to take the sign down and he was going to put it off for a while,” she said.