County settles on Neck area property for long-delayed skatepark
Aug 19 2014 6:47 pm
By Brenda Rindge, Post & Courier
After searching for five years for the perfect site for a skatepark in the Charleston Neck area, the county Park and Recreation Commission has settled on the location it wanted all along – a 25-acre property on Oceanic Street.
The long-delayed park could open sometime in 2015 at 1593 Oceanic Street, which has 3 1/2 acres of upland nestled between Interstate 26 and the Ashley River marsh.
“The one question everybody asks is, ‘When am I going to skate?'” said county parks Executive Director Tom O’Rourke. “The answer is, I don’t know. It’s going to take less than a couple years and a little more than a year.”
The commission has wanted to build the skatepark at the Oceanic Street property for several of years, but was deterred by the discovery of tons of concrete that had been dumped there and covered with dirt, O’Rourke said.
Parks revenue was sufficient to buy the land, which cost $800,000, he said, but building a skatepark there would not have been feasible because of the cost of removing the concrete, estimated at nearly $1 million.
“We just thought as an agency there’s no need to dump extra money into this site when we have 10,000 acres of park land all over the county,” O’Rourke said.
The commission decided Monday to go ahead with building the skatepark there after Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said the city would pick up half the cost of removing the concrete debris. The $500,000 would be available because the property is located in a Tax Increment Financing District, a public financing method for redevelopment and community improvement projects.
“The commission found the Oceanic site which seemed to be – is – excellent because it is centrally located,” Riley said Tuesday. “That was by far the best site they considered and so … we worked to help identify funds. I sent a memo to every member of City Council and there has been no dissent. I’m confident that City Council will overwhelmingly support this.”
The issue will go before City Council in September.
In addition to the city funds, the Charleston-based nonprofit Speedwell Foundation donated about $400,000 to remove the debris and prepare the site for the skatepark.
Plans for the skatepark will be unveiled at a public meeting the commission expects will be held soon, O’Rourke said.
Removing concrete should take about three months, he said.
The planned park will be “regional quality,” O’Rourke said, meaning it will be 25,000 square feet or more so that it can host competitions.
“We’re moving as fast as we possibly can,” he said. “Our site selection process, after 5½ years, is finally over.”