Satirical Facebook post brings attention to Fort Johnson renovation

Published: Sep. 10, 2022 at 5:17 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2022 at 1:44 PM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A Facebook post got a lot of attention after making false claims about the Fort Johnson and May Forest renovation project.

The post, which was created on Friday, got over 400 comments from upset and confused residents. It was created by the group “Charleston Municipality,” they made claims that the project is about international shipping and passenger cruise ships. They said on Saturday in a statement that “the post was obviously very satirical.”

State Representative Spencer Wetmore says seeing the Facebook post and reactions from the public was heartbreaking.

“This is a project that we were really proud of,” Wetmore says. “I sort of understood the assignment here that people do not want to see a whole bunch of new development. People are concerned about flooding or concerned about traffic. To me, I certainly don’t want to see a bunch of houses and development there either. The people that made this post are obviously playing on people’s fears of that.”

The real Fort Johnson and May Forest renovation project started in March of 2022 and its goal is to tie together history, nature, research and environmental preservation.

The land on James Island is home to many different historical artifacts dating back to the late 1700′s. For the project to take place, a few old buildings will be torn down to make room for the renovations.

James Island Town Councilman Garrett Milliken says the stakeholders worked hard to keep history and rising sea levels in mind during the planning process.

“While the public might have been restricted with access to these locations in the past, the future will actually invite the public to enjoy the rich history of this location that will be in concordance with the research mission of this area as well,” Milliken says. “Both things are going to happen simultaneously at this location. So, I think it’s a win, win for both perspectives, history and research.”

Currently, the area is home to research for the Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston and the Marine Research Institute. All of their work will continue to move forward at the location after renovations take place.

“It really is the jewel of James Island,” Milliken says. “It has so much history, so much ecological significance. And frankly, the views are spectacular.”

The project website contains detailed maps and plans of what the entire area of Fort Johnson and May Forest should look like in the future. Despite the drama surrounding the Facebook post, Wetmore hopes the community becomes more aware about the actual project taking place.

“I just hope people will get excited about the park,” she says. “I know this Facebook post is just, honestly, just a mean joke.”

The “Charleston Municipality” Facebook group released the following statement on the post:

The post regarding the James Island Global Gateway Terminal was obviously very satirical, as it was intended being that Charleston Municipality is a satirical Facebook page. The main goal behind the post was to bring awareness to the rampant overdevelopment of not only James Island, but the entire Lowcountry, largely at the hands of our local elected officials and review boards. The post angered so many people, and those people are ready to put up a fight against this project. We want the same collective passion from everyone for all the development that is ACTUALLY taking place all around us. This “huge” and impactful project easily got peoples attention, but everyone needs to pay attention to all the projects that take place, as they are directly and negatively impacting our daily lives, largely due to a seemingly lack of oversight and shady deals being given to developers on a daily basis. Everyone must stay vigilant, and fight to preserve what we have before we have no more.