Skate park in Neck Area will move forward

Charleston City Council approved an additional $928,000 for a skate park in the Neck Area.

A skate park in the Neck Area will move forward, even though the price tag has jumped from $3 million to nearly $4 million.

Charleston City County on Tuesday unanimously approved an additional $928,000 for the 3-acre park for skateboarders in an industrial area on Oceanic Street. The site is near Monrovia Cemetery and the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere” that was built to serve a failed development.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the county’s Park and Recreation Commission was ready to give up the site because additional money was required to stabilize it. “It was dead,” Riley said.

But it also was the perfect site for the park because of its location in the center of the metro area, he said. So the city decided to step in and come up with the extra money.

The site previously had been used by a concrete company as a disposal site, he said. Work has to be done to pack down the chunks of concrete under the site’s surface, he said. If that work isn’t done, the chunks could settle in the future, which would create cracks in the skate park. “In a skate park, you can’t run the risk of cracks,” he said.

And, Riley added, the Speedwell Foundation has agreed to contribute $400,000 toward the work. The remaining $528,000 will come from the Neck Area tax-increment finance district.

Under such plans, which are known as TIFs, improvements — such as roads, sidewalks and parks — for a particular area are paid for by future tax revenue generated by the area.

Charleston County Council in March approved a $9 million bond issue for the county’s Park and Recreation Commission, $3 million of which was allocated to the skate park. But officials subsequently learned an additional nearly $1 million would be needed to stabilize the site.

Tom O’Rourke, the commission’s executive director, said the site is in the perfect location, but the commission was ready to abandon it and find another site because of the increased cost.

He’s not yet sure when construction will begin on the skate park, he said.

Now, he said, there’s “a mountain of dirt” sitting on the site. The weight of that dirt will put pressure on the ground, he said, and begin to pack down the concrete pieces so they are stable.

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