New park gem for Dorchester

Leroy Burnellstaff Dorchester County jumped at the chance to buy this Bacons Bridge property for its next park. The site already includes $3 million worth of infrastructure.

What could be better than an 83-acre public park with frontage on the Ashley River, a fishing pond and walking trails through a lush forest?

How about one that already has $3 million worth of infrastructure in place and costs only $1.35 million?

One that might well be near where Gen. William Moultrie and Gen. Francis Marion each encamped during the Revolutionary War?

How about one that is expected to pay for itself?

Dorchester County Council wisely jumped on the chance to add just such a purchase to its park property in a suburban part of lower Dorchester County.

Plans to add shelters, a dock for paddle boats and canoes, trails, picnic areas, a playground and a pavilion aren’t expected to take long to accomplish.

The design might be tweaked to feature its historic nature if archeological digs confirm that the park is the site of Gen. Moultrie’s camp.

Scholars say it is quite possible in that the historic Bacon’s Bridge crossed the Ashley in the vicinity of the park site and soldiers were charged with protecting the bridge. Just across the road is the county’s Rosebrock Park, where the Swamp Fox is believed to have camped. The county obtained that 76-acre park in from the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, which used S.C. Conservation Bank funds for the purchase in 2008.

People and businesses are attracted to the Lowcountry for many reasons, including its history and its natural beauty.

But without careful government planning, their opportunities to enjoy the extraordinary outdoor environment would become more scarce.

Indeed, the tract in question was available for Dorchester County to purchase only because a developer, hoping to build residences there, defaulted.

Dorchester County voters in 2010 voted for a $5 million bond to purchase open space and parks. In effect, they acknowledged the importance of protecting and preserving the area’s natural assets for the public’s enjoyment.

Once land is developed, it rarely, if ever, is “un-developed.”

Dorchester County would do well to design the parkland so that it is accessible, taking care not to compromise its unspoiled essence.

The county’s next park should be a special asset to the public, to the environment and to historic scholarship.