Dorchester County’s new Ashley River Park officially opens to the community on Saturday, March 19, 2022. The 83-acre park located along the Ashley River off Bacon’s Bridge Road features playgrounds, two picnic shelters, a splash pad, fishing pond, riverside walking trail, kayak launch, two dog parks, and an event pavilion. Designed with community input, the park was created to be a dynamic and engaging space where family and friends can gather, celebrate, connect, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
“After 25 years of dreaming, planning, budgeting, designing, and building, I am beyond thrilled that our shared vision to create the county’s flagship park has become a reality,” said Dorchester County Council Chairman Bill Hearn. “I am grateful for the leadership from County Council, both current and former members, and the support by our Parks and Recreation Commission, our residents, and staff who all have had a part in the creation of the Ashley River Park as a destination for residents and visitors.”
The Ashley River Park is a product of the 2009 Parks and Recreation Master Plan which defined the role of Dorchester County Parks with a goal of creating a first-class parks system. In 2010, voters approved a bond referendum for parks and conservation which later allowed Dorchester County to purchase the 306 acres in the Pine Trace community as well as foreclosed property along the Ashley River. Both properties were issued permits for anticipated impacts to wetlands for basic infrastructure needs. The County also saved $500,000 in wetland mitigation fees by protecting a total of 81.5 acres of wetlands and wetland buffers through restrictive covenants. In subsequent years, staff moved forward with master plans for both parks with construction costs funded by the 2019 voter-approved bond referendum for parks and recreation capital projects.
The grand opening celebration for Ashley River Park kicked off with a ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday, March 16 with members of the Dorchester County Council and other honored guests. Councilman David Chinnis opened the ceremony by welcoming everyone and sharing how much this park meant to him. He said, “When I first sat down with George McDaniel and Coy Johnson, I hoped we could conserve this incredible piece of property for the community. What we cut the ribbon on today exceeds my hopes by leaps and bounds!”
The program also included remarks by County Council Vice-Chairman and Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Jay Byars who said, “I will be forever thankful for the leadership, vision, and commitment by my fellow council members, our Parks and Recreation Commission, and our community who helped to make this dream come true. The journey to where we are today has not been without its challenges, but support and commitment to the projects never wavered. I believe that the Ashley River Park will be our cornerstone park and that it will bring countless value to all those that will enjoy this space for generations to come.”
The Ashley River Park officially opens to the public on Saturday, March 19. It is located at 200 Renken Road in Summerville and will be open daily from dawn to dusk. For more information about entry fees or pavilion and shelter rentals, please visit dorchestercountysc.gov/parks or call (843) 806-2426.
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