By Hannah Dockery
It’s an often unnoticed patch of land off of Palm Boulevard. Situated between the Island Center and 20th Avenue rests a small 1.07-acre slice of trees and brush that resemble what the Isle of Palms must have looked like back before we discovered its beauty and moved in.
The land, purchased by the City of Isle of Palms using $474,385 in grant funds from the Charleston County Greenbelt program, now lies at the center of a debate as to how to best maintain, update, and preserve the green space. According to the deed restrictions in the agreement between the County and the City, the City can never sell or develop the property, must include the public in the decision process, must acknowledge the source of the funding via signage, and must not pave any part of the property.
Isle of Palms City staff discussed options as to what to do with the park before hosting a city-wide hearing on February 19. According to officials, there are three feasible options for the park. The first option is to post a sign stating that the land came from the County greenbelt funding and leave everything else as is. The second option is to place the sign and clean up some of the limbs and underbrush, but leave the rest of the park untouched. The third option is to place the sign, clean up limbs and underbrush, and create a “Passive Park.” In creating a passive park, the City would insert walking and jogging paths, a few picnic tables, and areas for wildlife or bird watching. No pavement would be allowed, and the park would be in conjunction with the natural habitat already present.
Though few were in attendance, several Isle of Palms residents spoke out about their wishes for the future of the acquired land. Margery Swanson commented that she hopes the City would reconsider the name “Live Oak Park” and choose a different name for the property. She also stated that she would like to see the area cleaned up, but questioned if there was enough room for trails and paths. Resident Jay Leigh said that the idea of a passive park is a “nice idea” but worried about policing the public property at night. Beatrice Love, an Isle of Palms resident who lives near the property, commented “The area should be untouched,” and was confident that homeowners on 20th Avenue would agree. After the handful of comments, Mayor Cronin encouraged others in the community to participate in the decision making process and make their opinions known.
Since the process began, the land has been dubbed “Live Oak Park” for unknown reasons, and the name is subject to change. City Councilmembers encouraged the public at the hearing to consider alternative names for the park and make those suggestions known to Council.
For more information on Live Oak Park, suggestions, or comments, contact an Isle of Palms City Councilmember or call 886-6428.