DI residents and local officials weigh in on potential new 'legacy' park
As reported in last week’s issue of The Daniel Island News, Representative Mark Sanford is attempting to rally support for his revived plan to build a 400-plus acre park along the Wando River on the island. The park, which would come equipped with a six mile biking trail and water access, is currently in its early planning stages. If it receives a green light, the park would not come to fruition for another 75 to 100 years, noted Sanford, who has suggested setting up a nonprofit to handle the project’s funding. It may be a long way off, and at the moment a hypothetical situation, but several key players have come out in support of the project.
While candidates in the S.C. House District 99 race are on different sides of the bipartisan fence, both Democrat Jen Gibson and Republican Nancy Mace say that the park is a worthwhile pursuit. Mace voiced her support of the effort at an August 2 press conference hosted by Sanford, while Gibson told The Daniel Island News that “developing green spaces for our community is a smart, common sense idea.”
“A world class Central Park will attract businesses that prioritize the health and happiness of their employees, raise property values, and improve the quality of life for everyone in the Lowcountry,” Gibson added.
According to City of Charleston Spokesman Jack O’Toole, Mayor John Tecklenburg is interested in seeing what comes of the plan.
“Mayor Tecklenburg is supportive of Representative Sanford’s idea for a new park on Daniel Island,” said O’Toole. “They spoke about the proposal during a meeting last month, and the mayor looks forward to learning more about the plan.”
Water taxis are integral aspects of Sanford’s plan. The representative believes transportation via the Wando River and Charleston Harbor will mitigate traffic congestion that the park will bring. “The idea for a regional park for the Charleston area is terrific and the proposal from Congressman Sanford to put one on the southern tip of Daniel Island shows the kind of long term vision he has,” said Daniel Island Ferry Co-Owner Colby Hollifield. “Even if water taxis don’t solve all the issues, we could certainly play a very significant role.”
DANIEL ISLAND NEWS SURVEY REVEALS SUPPORT FOR PARK
A survey conducted by The Daniel Island News about the proposal last week generated more than 200 responses. A majority, over 60 percent of responders, said that they would want to see a 400 acre park on Daniel Island. Most residents that support the project stated the park will bring needed conservation to the island.
“Land is precious and needs to be preserved,” said one survey participant. “Charleston has become overdeveloped overnight and will lose its qualities that people live here for if we don’t think ahead and set land aside. The rate of growth far exceeds what land to building ratio we used to have.”
“Sanford is right that there are limited waterfront spaces accessible to the public,” another commenter said. “This would protect the island from over development and provide another draw for people to visit DI which will help local businesses.”
Those opposed to the plan were concerned with the added traffic and people a large-scale park would bring.
“Most residents on DI bought homes for the safety, quaintness, and quiet of this island. It is our sanctuary from a metropolis,” said one respondent. “We pay high prices for our homes for this reason. The park will change our way of life on Daniel Island so I am 100 percent opposed to this idea.”
“Until the supporting infrastructure [is in place], Daniel Island needs to rethink ALL future development. The continued short sightedness is mind boggling,” another opponent to the park added.
Residents also provided suggestions for how they would enhance the park. “Turn it into a wildlife or bird sanctuary so all the poor animals that have lost their natural habitat due to over building the Island, will have shelter and safety,” one person noted.
Many people stated that the best addition that could be made to the plan is for added infrastructure.
“Water taxis alone would not handle the increased traffic,” answered another respondent. “They need to provide for a major road that would take people from the Wando bridge to the park.”
On the topic of a water taxi service ameliorating traffic woes, the vote was almost a 50-50 split. Readers, by a margin of one percent, believe that water taxis could be a viable solution to the concerns of roadway congestion.
“The future of transportation in Charleston has to include a water option,” added Colby Hollifield. “There are significant challenges to establishing a regional ferry service, but if our community leaders in both the public and private sector are committed to it, as they currently are, we can overcome those challenges.”
Rep. Sanford has not yet released a timeline for funding the project.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Survey respondents also made a few name suggestions for the proposed park. Below are several of their ideas:
Wando Riverside Park