Sale of McLeod to PRC is urged
Town of James Island officials want the historic McLeod Plantation to end up in the hands of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.
In a letter Friday to Historic Charleston Foundation Board President W.E. Applegate, signed by Mayor Bill Woolsey and all six James Island Town Council members, town officials urged the foundation to sell to the parks commission the 38-acre McLeod tract, its 1853 main house and five slave cottages.
"CCPRC will be most likely to provide access in a way that allows the general public to share in the potential cultural and educational benefits of this historic property," the letter states.
The PRC has shown interest in purchasing the property in the past.
The letter also offers apologies for "past difficulties" that existed between the Foundation and the town.
Woolsey announced at the Oct. 5 council meeting that the town would recommend that the parks commission should become the new owner of McLeod. He also said the town would pay $35,000 to the Historic Charleston Foundation to cover legal fees incurred while the town was trying to obtain McLeod through the use of eminent domain.
The town is legally obligated to pay those fees, and also owes an undetermined amount to attorneys who were representing the town during the condemnation effort that was aborted in July, Woolsey said.
Under former Mayor Mary Clark, the town offered last spring to purchase the plantation from the foundation, and when the town's offer was spurned, it launched its eminent domain efforts.
Clark objected when, on July 21 by a 3-2 vote, council agreed to "dismiss its condemnation lawsuit and abandon all efforts to acquire McLeod Plantation."
Councilmen supporting the motion argued that the costs of obtaining and restoring the historic plantation and its antebellum structures were too great for the town.
Besides the apology, the letter included this: "As you are surely aware, the voters of the Town of James Island resoundingly rejected that condemnation effort in our recent election, with the former mayor and all councilmen who favored condemnation being removed from office.
"However, the people of James Island remain concerned about the disposition of the property. Please accept the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission's proposal to acquire the property."