MOUNT PLEASANT — A town-proposed partnership with the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission for a 43-acre Shem Creek park is still possible, even though the PRC has been lukewarm toward the deal, a town councilman said Wednesday.
The town paid $6 million for the property in December 2007. A PRC appraisal values the land at about $3 million as of Oct. 31. PRC commissioners declined to vote on the proposal for a 50/50 partnership at their Jan. 27 meeting after reviewing the appraisal.
"I don't see (the proposed deal) happening, personally, any time soon. I don't think that if we had taken a vote that it would have passed," PRC Vice Chairman Mark Kearns. said
Councilman Gary Santos said he will arrange a meeting with PRC commissioners to discuss their reservations about entering the partnership with the town for the Shem Creek park.
"I'm putting together the meeting right now. I'm certain we'll be able to sit down and talk this out. It will be a perfect match," Santos said. He anticipated the meeting would happen within two weeks.
"We're more than happy to meet with them," Kearns said. However, he said that the PRC is exploring other options for park space east of the Cooper River, and it has an obligation to spend wisely its remaining $17 million to $19 million in half-cent sales tax funds that it can use for land acquisition.
He would not discuss the other properties under consideration because the PRC is negotiating for them.
Kearns said the Shem Creek property would provide public waterfront access, but he noted that it includes less than an acre of highland. The PRC is looking for more land to complement the Palmetto Islands County Park in the northern part of town, he said.
The PRC has acquired 800 acres near McClellanville, and it bought 60 acres on the Intracoastal Waterway near Awendaw that has deep-water access only 10 minutes from Wando High School, he said.
The PRC and the town signed an agreement for the PRC to manage the 1,200-foot-long pier at the new Memorial Waterfront Park scheduled to open Fourth of July weekend. "We do like working with the town," Kearns said.
Atlantic Appraisals LLC valued the Shem Creek property for PRC. "The consideration ($6 million) appears to have been above market value. This appears to reflect the fact that the town was a motivated buyer under pressure from a vocal group of citizens not to allow the property to be developed," the appraisal states.
Santos said different appraisers can arrive at different conclusions. "It depends on who you get to do the appraisal," he said. Councilman Joe Bustos has said the difference between the $6 million that the town paid for the property and the $3 million PRC appraisal reflects sharply declining real estate values in a recession.