Firm ground for Folly park

Folly Beach County Park, which is shown in this photo from October of 2012, has been closed since August 2011, because of extensive damage from Hurricane Irene.

The answer to the dilemma over renourishing the Folly Beach County Park was always there, but passions were muddying the water.

The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission is passionate about rebuilding the popular park and giving the public convenient access to the ocean.

The Coastal Conservation League is passionate about protecting the environment and ensuring that rebuilding the park would not jeopardize bird-nesting islands down-drift from the work.

Both are worthy passions, and both organizations are to be commended for finding common ground and a plan that should work for everyone.

So if the PRC is able to get the final permit for its $3 million plan, the public can anticipate once again sunning and swimming at the tip of Folly. And the public can still enjoy bird watching, because Skimmer Flats should not be impacted negatively.

The Coastal Conservation League announced Monday that it will not challenge the permit.

The park has been closed since August 2011, because of extensive damage from Hurricane Irene. Up until then, it drew 100,000 visitors annually.

The PRC proposed building a groin at the site to capture sand and build back the area before it disappears altogether.

Ordinarily, the conservation league would justifiably oppose any hard erosion-control construction, preferring to let nature take its course.

But the PRC and the CCL now agree that erosion on Folly is unique, and is due to the construction of the Charleston Harbor jetties.

Indeed, Folly is exempt from the Beachfront Management Act and is renourished regularly by the federal government for that reason.

The public interest also was an important factor in this decision to rebuild the park. It is increasingly difficult for people to access local beaches safely and conveniently. There is a reason the Folly Beach County Park was so popular.

There was in the negotiating, however, still the issue of Skimmer Flats and whether the groin would cause it damage. The PRC is confident it would not — so confident that it promised to remove the groin if damage were to occur.

The sticking point for several months has been who would monitor the effects of the groin. The organizations have resolved that a special committee, including the plan’s designer, will select a team of specialists in coastal geology and engineering to do so.

Constructing a groin to manipulate the movement of sand should not happen without lots of scrutiny — even arguments.

The extraordinary Lowcountry coast is a treasure to be protected as well as enjoyed by the public.

The way forward for Folly, while it was a struggle, promises to do both.