Dorchester Co. looking to expand Ashley River Park to at least 300 acres

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 9:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 4:17 AM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - It is no secret that development is booming in the Tri-County area, but officials in Dorchester County say they are making efforts to preserve part of the county before it is too late.

Dorchester County Councilmember Jay Byars said the county wants to expand Ashley River Park from its current 83 acres to at least 300 acres.

“We’re not going to be able to get this land back once it’s developed,” Byars said. “Our vision is to be able to save this for future generations and just make this park as large as we can.”

Ashley River Park could soon be expanding across Bacons Bridge Road onto 112 acres of land the county wants to conserve. Byars said the county is allocating around $3.3 million to build a tunnel underneath the roadway for pedestrian access across both sides.

Byars said the county is turning land that would have become homes into public-use facilities.

“This is an opportunity where instead of 147 houses and 200 apartments across the street, now you’re going to have 300 acres of park property on the river,” Byars said.

On the 112 acres, the county will soon be building a nearly $10 million library, which will have learning, creation and multimedia spaces for residents.

“We really want to be able to give people opportunities to learn, to recreate and just have a better quality of life,” Byars said, “and this is literally going to be 10 minutes from 140,000 people in Dorchester County.”

Neighbors said they are supportive of the park and its possible expansion.

“I’ve seen my neighbors go kayaking out there,” neighbor John McPherson said. “My dogs go out there all the time, grandkids, I mean, a lot of people in the neighborhood actually use the park too. I mean, it’s been a good thing, really.”

Eventually, the county said they want to connect Ashley River Park to neighboring Rosebrock Park’s trails via a bridge over the Ashley River.

Speaking of the river, the county said if the expansion goes to plan, around two miles of the park will face the river’s edge.

“You’re going to have fishing opportunities, trails, just walking trails to get out and enjoy yourself,” Byars said, “and we’re going to look at other opportunities, as well. We’ve got a blank slate to start creating even more opportunities over there.”

The county said they will be breaking ground on that library next month and say the park expansion will take about two to three years to complete.

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