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Colonial Lake improvement project at half-way mark, demolition work near completion

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

After nearly 6 months of work, the Colonial Lake improvement project is starting to see results.
Demolition work is almost complete and parking along Rutledge Avenue is expected to re-open by the end of July. 

Altogether, the renovation work is expected to cost $5 million and be complete in February 2016, a month later than originally scheduled. 

The project is a joint effort between multiple agencies including: Charleston Parks Conservancy, City of Charleston, DesignWorks and Wildwood contractors. 

"This is the first major redo for this park in 150 years," said Charleston Parks Conservancy Executive Director Harry Lesesne. "We'd like this current one to last another 150 years."

Lesesne and other project leads say the goal with the renovation work is to preserve the history of the lake while making necessary repairs. 

"They're going to look at the water and they're going to go, 'wow, it's beautiful, I've never really seen it look that beautiful before,'" said Scott Parker with DesignWorks. "There's going to be a great promenade with a wonderful granite edge all the way around."

Crews will improve the water quality by putting in a new control system that better filters into the Ashley River.
They're also recreating the tabby, or solid material in the seawall. Parker says more than 100 years ago, when the lake was created, tabby was made from heated oyster shells and sand. They'd pull the lime from the shells to make the concrete material. 

Now, they have to recreate that tabby to properly repair the seawall. They're doing this by pulling lime, mainly from Gulf Coast shells, to fix the wall. 

Other work includes: raising the level of the water, bringing in new lights, putting in new gardens, adding almost 20 new benches, new water fountains, installation of WiFi and a lot more.

Before, the park offered 35 benches. Now, it will have about 53 benches, with a seating wall stretching the length of Rutledge Avenue, running parallel to the length of the lake. 

 "It will be like one of the best parks, not only in Charleston but in America," said Parker.

 "There will be all the things that people loved about Colonial Lake before this project," said Lesesne.

From the path surrounding the water to the Palmetto trees, Lesesne said the lake's been a big part of Charleston's history and will be an important part of its future. 
 
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