2 parkland purchases completed

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The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and the city of Charleston on Wednesday completed purchases of parkland associated with the Long Savannah development in far West Ashley.

The city and county previously agreed to buy the more than 1,800 acres to create recreational opportunities in the area, and a green-space buffer against future development.

The county PRC purchase adds 1,650 acres to the Charleston County park system, at a cost of $6.5 million. The money came from the half-cent sales tax initiative.

The city's $2.4 million purchase, split between city and half-cent funds, is for a 212-acre property at the top of Bear Swamp Road, where a mix of passive parkland and playing fields has been planned.

The two new parks will wrap around much of Long Savannah, a 1,253-acre development where about 3,000 homes and a commercial area are planned by Associated Developers Inc. and the SIM Group.

Long Savannah is being jointly planned with an adjacent, 287-acre property owned by HPH Properties, where 1,600 housing units and 300,000 square feet of commercial and office space are planned.

Development agreements for both tracts were approved last year by the city, which annexed the Long Savannah property.

"With this economic environment, we were not sure that the thing would close, but the developers have stayed true to the course," said Tom O'Rourke, executive director of the county PRC.

He said no decisions have been made about how to pay for the improvements needed to transform the land into a county park. "The first order of business was to lock up the land," O'Rourke said.

He said the county park system, which relies upon user fees and property taxes, has not suffered the budget problems seen at other levels of government.