One of Mount Pleasant’s tallest buildings is a parking garage. It’s more than eight stories tall at some points, and reportedly has enough space for more than 750 cars.
It easily is the dominant building on the south side of the Ravenel Bridge. It’s impossible to miss.
It’s also ironic when you consider the overwrought concern about the height of a more visually interesting Medal of Honor museum that would have been built near the site and would have been only a few feet taller.
But what makes this perhaps most troublesome is that some town officials have proposed using the massive new parking garage as an excuse to charge for parking nearby Waterfront Memorial Park, which has a public pier and access to the pedestrian and bicycle path across the Ravenel Bridge. It’s also the site for occasional concerts and other festivals.
Town Councilman Gary Santos worried at a recent Finance Committee meeting that people would avoid parking in the new garage when visiting Ferry Wharf, a mixed-use development the garage is designed to serve. This could cause headaches for visitors to the park.
After all, parking in the garage won’t be free, unlike the surface lots underneath the bridge just a few feet away.
When Waterfront Park initially opened, visitors had to pay for parking, so it’s not an unprecedented suggestion. The town got rid of the kiosks after finding that they cost almost as much money to maintain as they generated in parking revenue.
But Mr. Santos doesn’t just want to bring back paid parking. He wants it to apply only to people who don’t live in Mount Pleasant.
It’s true that Mount Pleasant residents paid to build the park (although as part of a now-expired special tax district, it took funds away from Charleston County). And they will be paying the bulk of the cost of plans to extend it, including adding several boat slips.
But other Charleston County residents have chipped in, and federal funds are expected to be involved in the park’s expansion. The state paid much of the cost to build the Ravenel Bridge, and parking underneath it in Mount Pleasant is a popular way for people to walk or bike across it.
The obvious solution would be to wait and see if parking becomes a problem as the Ferry Wharf development proceeds. Paying for parking near a popular community amenity certainly isn’t unusual, nor would it be an unreasonable request if it turns out to be necessary.
But asking that Mount Pleasant residents get free access while charging everyone else is an unfair suggestion. And implementing such a program could end up costing more than a flat fee for all visitors, rendering it fiscally irresponsible. The town should steer clear of this idea.