The Three Bs of the lower peninsula
What do the Battery, the bandstand at White Point Garden and bathrooms have in common? Until recently, the correct answer would have been “inaction.”
Spring tourist season will be here soon, and so far there is no sign of accommodating visitors with much needed bathrooms near the Battery.
The bandstand at White Point Garden, rebuilt by the city at great expense, has not been used for concerts, despite a resident’s generous offer to the city to pay the musicians.
But the Battery itself, nine years after being found structurally unsound and in need of significant repairs, is finally on course for some badly needed work.
The city of Charleston has been criticized for focusing most of its time and resources on the historic area. And indeed, that’s where you find the Gaillard Auditorium, Waterfront Park, the meticulously restored Dock Street Theatre and beautified King Street.
But when the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association began to research the Battery study, members found that the first phase of repairs was included in the city’s capital improvement plan for 2009. But the plan wasn’t implemented. Money was not set aside for it.
The CNA decided to take up the Battery as an advocacy campaign. Now bidding, contracting, planning and staging are under way. The process is expected to take six months, according to city Director of Public Service Laura Cabiness, who updated CNA members at a recent meeting. Work should begin by fall and be completed next spring.
The first job will be to repair the stretch where High Battery meets Low Battery. It is in the worst shape.
Plans are not in place yet for the next two phases, but neighbors made it clear to the city that they are eager for repairs to be made as soon as possible. The Battery is not just a tourist attraction and a favorite place for locals to stroll and run; it is a line of defense for the peninsula during big storms.
Meanwhile, the bandstand goes without band concerts and distressed tourists continue to ring people’s doorbells in search of a restroom.
It’s not that peninsula residents are more important than those who live west of the Ashley or on Daniel Island.
It’s that the peninsula has pressing needs. Answering those needs means residents from all over the city, and tourists from all over the world, would benefit.