New Charleston park pegged for Maryville

Charleston's newest park overlooks the Ashley River and has a back-door view of historic Charles Towne Landing.

City Council recently approved the purchase of 2.68 acres on Bender Street in the Maryville community. Sales price: $635,000.

Just a few years ago the land was suggested for use in affordable housing and had been regularly used as a dumping site.

Now officials envision a park that will complement a variety of other West Ashley public spaces, including the Greenway biking-and-jogging path and the soon-to-be built Higgins Pier on the Ashley River.

The property, which is ringed by several grand oaks, also features a direct view of the ship Adventure - Charles Towne Landing's reproduction of a 17th century coastal trader kept at anchor on Old Towne Creek.

City Councilman Keith Waring proposed the city buy the land, saying it presented an opportunity to put the space into the public domain after large chunks of the Ashley River waterfront has fallen into private hands.

The park "gives another panoramic view" to the public, Waring said. "I don't think you can have enough of those."

Waring also suggested the site was probably visited by the earliest Charles Towne residents as they branched out from the settlement after Europeans arrived in 1670.

Increasing public access could also help kick-start research into the Maryville community, he said, pointing to the small and mostly black enclave founded after the Civil War.

Ideally, the land would be maintained as a passive park, Waring said. For comparison he pointed to Sunrise Park on James Island, which features a few benches and picnic sites, along with a recreational pier for fishing.

Mayor Joe Riley endorsed the purchase in a letter to members of City Council last month.

"If we do not acquire this land, it will eventually be developed in some fashion, forever altering the view shed from Charles Towne Landing," he wrote.

Waring said the park could be part of a link of public activity sites in that part of West Ashley, adding in the new park under construction on the Ashley River in Northbridge, and the Charleston County park covering the former Ashem Farm now called Old Towne Creek County Park.

An opening date was not set. Site cleanup is necessary.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551

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