Charleston, SC, Needs $500M for Parks
Charleston, SC, 2/22/02 – Charleston county’s six largest cities need more than $500 million to buy parkland and build new park facilities, according to a report released today by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization. The report provides results from the first assessment ever conducted of the County’s urban park needs. The results complement earlier County assessments of rural and regional open space needs.
Municipalities that participated in the survey are Charleston, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Mt Pleasant, North Charleston, and Sullivans Island. The report reveals that these six cities need a combined total of:
- 8,604 acres of new parkland valued at more than $500 million; and
- more than $3 million for new park facility construction.
Meeting the need for green space in Charleston County’s urban centers has never been more important. The vast majority of County residents now live in or near cities, and parks and open space have become a top concern for these rapidly growing communities. Urban parks and open space provide close to home recreational opportunities for city residents, help curb juvenile crime, attract economic development, and help build community spirit.
With state and federal funding for urban parks static or decreasing, local sources of funding are more critical than ever. In November 2000, Charleston County voters narrowly defeated a ? cent sales tax that would have provided $303 million for urban and rural land protection. In the past year, the need for parks and open space in the County has continued to grow. In the fall of 2002, Charleston County residents may have the opportunity to re-consider a revised sales tax measure, which could create significant new public funding for parks and open space. New funding would enable cities throughout the County to work towards meeting the needs documented in the report released today by TPL.
“If Charleston County’s economy is going to thrive, the county’s natural, recreation, and open space assets must be protected,” said D.G. Martin, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Carolinas office. “The sales tax presents a tremendous potential opportunity to provide new funding to preserve Charleston County’s natural and cultural resources.”
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. For the second year in a row, The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine named the Trust for Public Land the most efficient conservation charity in the nation, having dedicated 92% of its funds to programs in 2001. Since its founding TPL has protected 1.4 million acres valued at 2.5 billion. In the Carolinas, TPL has helped protect more than 22,000 acres.