Exposing questionable practices in Awedaw

A new park in Awendaw is being mined for dirt to pay for costs of development.

“There needs to be an impact study,” said Chris Crolley, owner of Coastal Expeditions and an Awendaw resident. “Nobody on Town Council is a geologist or a hydrologist.”

The lake could be 80 acres once digging is complete. The site was also timbered to raise money. Market forces are shaping the outcome of the park rather than a thoughtful design. Elliot Summey is heading the project. His “company Jackson Development placed the low bid to build the park and signed a unique contract in which he has the right to mine and sell dirt to create a lake in exchange for developing trails, open grassy areas and unpaved parking lots and supplying potable water. Summey also might build restroom facilities if he brings in enough money.” $5.2 million is Charleston County’s cost.

Money to purchase the 291-acre Jefferson tract for the park came from the county’s Greenbelt program, which was funded by a voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation projects and land preservation.

Town of Awendaw administrator Bill Wallace supports the project.

Wallace said a park with a lake, trails and open areas is needed in Awendaw, which sits in the Francis Marion National Forest. The park’s new lake will provide a place for children to swim, fish and kayak, he said. And the town can hold gatherings in the park’s grassy areas.

He also said the park eventually will serve as a link in the East Coast Greenway, which will provide a 2,900-mile connection from Maine to Florida. And it will connect to the Palmetto Trail, an emerging east-west route running from Oconee County in the Upstate to the coast.

“We have 500,000 acres of trees,” Wallace said. “We don’t have a lake.”

In summary, Crolley said:

“I would like to see a study on the impact on the Awendaw aquifer,” he said. “I’m not a scientist, but I would like to hear from one.”

The water level in the ocean is rising and the town is experiencing king tides more often, Crolley said. “The idea of taking dirt out of Awendaw seems counter-intuitive.”

Read more here: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20160409/PC16/160419985/dirt-mining-in-awendaw-park-raises-concerns

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