FOLLY BEACH — Six months ago, this park was dead in the water. A week from Wednesday, it will reopen with a flourish.
What to know
WHAT: Folly Beach County Park reopens to the public July 3.
WHEN: 9 a.m. (Daily hours 9 a.m.-7 p.m.)
WHERE: 1100 W. Ashley Ave.
ADMISSION: $8 per vehicle.
PARKING: More than 200 spots.
FACILITIES: Lifeguards, portable restrooms and outdoor shower area, snacks and drinks for sale.
The Folly Beach County Park “Grand Reopening Ceremony” will take place in new sand at 10 a.m. on July 3. An hour before that, its gate will be open to visitors for the first time since September 2011.
That’s just in time for the expected Fourth of July holiday beach throng.
Folly Beach County Park is one of only three sizable public-beach parks in the Charleston area. Since it closed because of erosion from Hurricane Irene, pressure has continued to ramp up on the other two, Isle of Palms County Park and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island.
The parks provide the only lifeguard beaches and are among the few beaches with nearby restrooms.
Less than six months ago, this wasn’t going to happen.
The environmental advocate Coastal Conservation League was set to fight in court a permit to build a groin — a barrier to trap sand in the surf — to slow erosion of beach renourishment sand at the Folly park.
Some sand flowing in the current downstream is pushed toward the beach by the groin.
Groins slow but won’t stop erosion at the beach where they are located, and they divert sand from downstream beaches.
While the league opposed the groin last winter, erosion threatened to overwash the spit, ruining it for use as a park. The commission had given up waiting for overdue Folly Beach sand renourishment, a project that remains stalled by federal budget crimps and politics. Commission members diverted $3 million from other funds to do the work for the park grounds.
Because of the money move, ongoing replacement of items such as roofs at other parks will be delayed, but operations won’t be affected, said Tom O’Rourke, commission executive director.
A court fight would have delayed the Folly park work for two years or more, effectively dooming the park. O’Rourke said he didn’t waver from believing it could happen this quickly.
“I actually thought 100 percent we’d get here,” he said. Both sides wanted environmental safeguards in place, he said. “(Coastal Conservation League) just wanted some assurance we were going to do what we’d said we’d do.”
The two sides compromised on the makeup of a committee that will monitor the groin’s impact on sand washing to rebuild nearby shorebird islands.
Katie Zimmerman of the league said its staffers now are focused on assuring the accuracy of that monitoring.
“I’m glad the public is going to have beach access for a little while again,” she said.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.