New community rec center plans outlined at DINA meeting
Basketball and volleyball courts, a running track, space for fitness equipment and classes, rooms for community meetings, and a commercial kitchen – all are features included in preliminary designs for Daniel Island’s first indoor community recreation center, slated to be built in Governors Park.
City Councilman Gary White and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg outlined plans for the new 25,000 square foot facility at last week’s Daniel Island Neighborhood Association (DINA) meeting.
“We think we hit all the marks and will be able to take care of all the programming needs that people were looking for,” said White. “…From a recreational standpoint, a lot of the things that we don’t provide today here on the island because of a lack of space, we’ll be able to do.”
More than 75 community members packed in to the ministry center at Church of the Holy Cross to hear about the project, and other planned enhancements that are part of a proposed Fourth Amendment to the Development Agreement between the City of Charleston and the Daniel Island Company.
“We certainly believe it’s the final amendment,” said Mayor Tecklenburg. “Because it really ties all the loose ends up.”
The agreement, originally created in the 1990s and intended to guide development on the island, specified the amount of acreage to be set aside for city parks, as well as the dollars the city would put forth to pay for those amenities. Tecklenburg acknowledged that the agreement was in need of updating and that some of the commitments had not been completed.
“When I was on the campaign trail last year, I heard from a lot of you that this had been on the back burner for too long and we needed to go ahead and resolve any issues that were outstanding,” said Tecklenburg. “As soon as I got into office, Councilmember White was impressing upon me the importance of doing that, and I think it’s good not just for the Daniel Island Company and the city, but for our citizens who live over here.”
One of the biggest pieces of the amendment is the re-allocation of approximately $5.3 million dollars for a proposed regional sports complex on the south side of the island to the new indoor community recreation center in Governors Park. A major point of consideration in that decision, explained White, was the fact that a road originally planned to provide access to the area from Thomas Island was deemed no longer necessary once plans for a global gateway port were scrapped in early 2002.
“When we had a port access road, obviously that made sense,” said White, referencing the large numbers of people that would have utilized the roadway to get to the regional park for sporting events. “Without a port access road, there is zero ability for Daniel Island Drive to handle 1000 vehicle trips on a Saturday (to that site). So we really had to sit back and say what would we do with that property given that scenario?”
The proposed amendment, which is expected to be approved at the September 27 City Council meeting, calls not only for the funding transfer to Governors Park but also for the city land originally set aside for the regional park to be leased to the Daniel Island Town Association (DITA) for recreational use.
“DITA, by way of public-private partnerships, can really do a lot more programming much faster than what the city would have the capacity to do,” added White.
After conducting public charrettes and surveys last year to gather input on the community’s recreational needs, the city decided to move forward with plans for the indoor community center – citing it as the number one request they heard from residents. Currently, the only indoor site for city-sponsored rec activities is the Daniel Island School gym. A joint agreement between the city and the school system allows the city to utilize the space for 500 hours a year, but that allotment has failed to meet increasing demand.
“We were over programming way past what the school could handle,” said White. “They were very nice. They gave us 500 hours a year…But it was nowhere near scratching the surface of what the recreational needs for our community were…The Daniel Island community really deserves a world class recreation community center that handles the needs of all of the community – and is going to allow us to have year round access for recreational opportunities for the community as a whole.”
The project, which would not eliminate any of the existing play fields at Governors Park, also includes plans for additional parking, noted White. The city will work to find an additional $2 million to ensure that the facility serves its intended purpose, bringing the estimated total cost of the center to just over $7 million.
“It will really be an all-encompassing indoor recreational facility,” said White. “…The Mayor has met with financial staff and we have already started discussions around how we are going to fund it. We know that to do it right, that’s what we need to do. And that’s what we’re committed to.”
“It’s a long time in coming,” said Daniel Island resident Marcia Miller after the meeting. “I think it will be very valuable.”
But Steve Reed wondered whether or not space set aside for basketball courts would be sufficient.
“That amount of court space – it will be nice, but it’s not gonna be enough,” he said. “But you can only do what you can do.”
“I guess overall I’m for it,” stated Bruce Markham, who attended the meeting with his wife, Kathy. “Because I don’t know what the alternative would be, and if it would be any better.”
“Anything to keep the kids busy!” added Kathy.
In addition to the community center, the amendment also calls for a two acre strip of land along the Wando River waterfront near the Daniel Island Sales Center to be deeded from the Daniel Island Company to the city. The city would then deed the property to DITA for development as park space.
“We will put deed restrictions on that that ensure that it is in perpetuity available and open to the public during normal park hours…as well as making sure we get some oversight as to what’s built on the site,” said White. “…There is no design planned for it yet, but it’s a way to engage the waterfront there.”
Also included in the amendment is a change to the original requirement that the city construct a neighborhood park in Daniel Island Park. Under the new terms, the city would have the option of building the park within two years. And if that doesn’t happen, the dollars allocated for the amenity could be moved to the new community recreation center and the Daniel Island Company would take over the building of the park.
“Irregardless, in two years something will be built on that site,” said White.
The next DINA meeting will be held on November 1. The organization has committees on safety, land use and zoning, membership, I-526 noise abatement, tree trimming, and more. For additional information, visit www.dineighborhoodassociation.org.
CITY PROJECT UPDATE ON DANIEL ISLAND
Mayor John Tecklenburg provided updates on several of the city’s projects on Daniel Island and the Cainhoy Peninsula at the September 6 meeting of the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association. Below is a summary of his remarks on each initiative.
Clements Ferry Road Widening – Phase One
Bid opening for construction expected to begin this week. Presuming bids are in line with budget expectations, construction could proceed immediately thereafter. The widening is expected to take about two years, with completion in late 2018. Phase One extends from I-526 at Clements Ferry Road to Jack Primus Road.
Clements Ferry Road Widening – Phase Two
Preliminary plans to be sent to the South Carolina Department of Transportation this fall. Once comments are received back, it is anticipated that the right-of-way acquisition process could begin in early 2017, after plans are approved. Construction bids could be opened on the project in 2019. Estimated construction period is two years, with completion expected in 2021 or 2022. Phase Two extends from Jack Primus Road to Hwy 41.
Freedom Park Restroom Facility
New city restroom facility and picnic pavilion currently under construction at park, located behind Daniel Island School. Estimated completion at the end of September 2016.
Daniel Island Shore Stabilization
City has permits in hand to begin process of stabilizing portions of Daniel Island coastline along the Wando River where erosion has occurred. Looking to begin project this fall with work complete by Spring. In certain areas, retaining walls will be installed.
Governors Park Boat Ramp
This project is being funded through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Berkeley County was originally slated to facilitate and manage the project, but the city has agreed to take over the initiative. A few permit modifications will be made from the original application, which was first submitted in 2003.
Daniel Island – Thomas Island
The city has funding in place for the portion of this project that extends from the Blackbaud campus on Daniel Island Drive over Beresford Creek to the start of a path connecting to the Shell Ring neighborhood. This part of the initiative will feature a bridge over the creek as well as an elevated walkway over wetlands. The other sections of the multi-use path have not yet been funded. Originally, it was proposed that the path extend all the way down Daniel Island Drive/Thomas Island Drive to Clements Ferry Road. But an alternative that would take the path through Shell Ring is being studied as a way to conserve costs and protect wetlands.
Daniel Island Performing
Although this is not a city funded project, Mayor Tecklenburg encouraged DINA members and other members of the community to support the initiative, which he dubbed a “world class facility” and a “great asset” to the island.