A paddler's dream

Steve Hutton, director of recreation for the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, paddles his kayak Tuesday during the Northbridge Park dedication in West Ashley.

When she was a junior in high school, Miranda Carruth pushed a plan to clean up the area beneath the Cosgrove Avenue bridge over the Ashley River, which was mostly rocks and mud.

Carruth, now a rising senior at the University of South Carolina, had no idea her efforts would eventually lead to the area becoming the city's 19th park with water access.

The 3-acre Northbridge Park opened Tuesday, with a pier and dock, a canoe and kayak launch, a picnic area and 16 parking spaces.

"It's amazing," Carruth said at the park dedication ceremony. "I dreamed it would all be here."

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said it's important to provide people access to the water. "It makes us dream and hope and causes us to pray," he said. "Water is magic."

The state Department of Transportation owns the park site, but the city of Charleston will operate it. Charleston County covered the cost of a bike and pedestrian path to the park.

Riley said the park cost about $1.5 million to complete. Bringing in the money and getting the necessary permits posed challenges, he said. "There were plenty of opportunities to say, 'It can't be done.' "

But supporters forged ahead.

The park is at the entry to Charleston from North Charleston, Riley said. It's especially important to have a quality, welcoming facility at one of the city's gateways.

Josh Hall, outdoor program manager with Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, paddled around the new pier and kayak launch Tuesday. "It's a great way for people to access the water," he said of the new dock. And the new park provides a very convenient place for kayakers and canoeists to access the water. "A lot of times they're fighting for parking," he said.

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.