Charleston Co. School District unveils plan for Hampstead Mall

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 4:26 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:55 PM EST
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is proposing changes to their quadrant of the Hamstead Mall.

The proposal is for a multiuse athletic field that can be used by the students at the Early College High School during the day and open to the public at night and over the weekends.

The plan would swap out the current fence with a more decorative one with two, lockable entrances facing Columbus Street. The district wants to finalize the plan in March and get started building during the Summer.

The plan was unveiled during a community meeting Thursday night at the Trident Technical College Palmer Campus.

As the oldest park in the city, the Hampstead Mall was originally formed as a large green space for colonial Charlestonians in what is now known as the East Side. The space was cut into two pieces when the city extended Columbus Street in 1905 and then four pieces by extending America Street in 1956.

The Charleston County School District controls the quadrant closest to the former Wilmot Fraser Elementary School. However, the green space has been locked behind a fence for decades, according to people living in the area.

Rev. Matthew Rivers is the pastor at St. John’s Chapel just a block away. He says everyone wants to see the area open to the public.

“I understand safety for the children. That is our number one priority. They have some concerns about what that looks like for them,” Rivers said. “We had a great conversation about, maybe not a fence that looks like what it is now but something a little bit different where it can be opened up on the weekends for the public to be able to use. That way now you can give everybody access to it.”

Last month the school district held a community meeting to discuss plans for a new Early College High School building across the street where the abandoned Fraser Elementary School is. Community members packed the house with concerns about demolishing the structure and paving over green space behind the building. The community consensus at that meeting was a distrust for the district’s ability to preserve the heritage of the area.

“This community has had long, long battles with trust, people saying they’re going to do this or that . . . and then when it gets difficult, or the community doesn’t agree right away, then they parachute out,” Rivers said. “If we can all come to the table and find a common ground then I think we can both start to build trust.”

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