Charleston moving forward on plans to convert former Confederate fort
CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Plans to convert an old Confederate Civil War fort on James Island within the city of Charleston into a public waterfront park are moving forward.
Director of Parks and Capital Projects Jason Kronsberg said on Thursday they spent over $6 million in Greenbelt funds to buy the old Fort Pemberton site off Yates Avenue, near the municipal golf course.
“We saw the opportunity to make it a park forever and to provide public access to the water’s edge, incredible sunsets out here with the western view and provide some waterfront access,” Kronsberg said. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Kronsberg said the city is nearly ready to begin work to open the area to the public after the pandemic caused their initial efforts to be delayed. He added the city bought the eight-and-a-half-acre site prior to the pandemic.
The earthworks and moat that made the fort’s defenses are still visible to this day.
Officials plan to create a park on the site with a small parking lot, walking trails and access to the Stono River for kayaking and fishing and adding historical storyboards to tell the fort’s history.
“We’ll tell the story,” Kronsberg said. “What is was, why it’s here, why is the dirt shaped like this and what the goal of the fort was protecting the City of Charleston.”
Because of the way the site was purchased, large events will not be allowed at the park, but it will be open for picnics and other activities. A total cost for the project is not yet known.
Kronsberg said had they not bought the land, it would have been developed for as many as 10 houses. Neighbors like Kristen Meierer believe a park is a better use of the land.
“Anytime they’re using nine acres that close to the city to not develop with houses, I am very happy,” Besides that they’re using it as a park that we can all enjoy the waterfront access, I think it’s fantastic.”
Over the next few months, the city will be holding community meetings to get more feedback on the project before they clean up the site.
They plan to open it sometime in the first few months of 2024.
“We’ll keep the tree cover as it is,” Kronsberg said. “Maybe there will be some nonnative invasive species removal projects that happen and a little tidying up. The creation of trails and clear areas, but pretty much the site will be as you see it.”
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