The county doesn’t anticipate having to turn back anyone hoping to go to Kiawah Island’s popular Beachwalker Park — at least not this year.
Tom O’Rourke, director of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, met Tuesday with Kiawah town officials to review their joint plan for handling overflow crowds.
O’Rourke said Beachwalker’s lot didn’t fill up over the weekend — possibly because of recent publicity about how cars would be turned away once its parking lot and about 120 overflow spaces have filled up.
No one has been turned away so far, and O’Rourke said the county and town hope to keep it that way, possibly by starting a shuttle service on the busiest days next summer.
“My main concern isn’t the rest of this year. It’s 10 years from now,” he said. “When someone moves from Illinois or Ohio to Dorchester County, they think they’re moving to the beach, and they want to come.”
Kiawah recently instituted a “no-idling” rule to prevent cars from lining up just outside Beachwalker’s entry gate — a step town officials said they took for safety, clutter and environmental reasons.
Kiawah Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker said the current plan, which has PRC employees guiding overflow parking to spots along Beachwalker’s access road as well as the Town Hall parking lot, shouldn’t have been perceived as negative.
“The story is how local government and PRC are working well together, in fact in a very proactive manner, to provide a safe and enjoyable beach experience for families,” she said.
O’Rourke said Beachwalker likely already has seen its busiest days of this year, and Kiawah and the county are looking ahead.
The idea of running a shuttle seven miles, between Beachwalker and the PRC’s Mullet Hall park on Johns Island, is unfeasible because it’s too far, but a closer site is being sought. Rucker said other logistical questions must be answered before any shuttle service begins.
“We need to start looking at next year today,” O’Rourke said.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.