Crystal Lake park plan ready for county's consideration

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 29, 2012 

Supporters of a park at Crystal Lake on Lady's Island imagine a place where families can relax and children and naturalists alike can learn about the environment.

They also hope a business or organization operating onsite can offset the park's costs.

"We just think it's a really neat opportunity where people can enjoy being outside, have places to walk, and learn about all the plants and birds and animals on the island," Friends of Crystal Lake co-chairman Peggy Allard said.

The plan was first proposed in the late 1990s, and 25 acres on Lady's Island have been donated or purchased by the county.

Now, a band of residents that has spent months gathering community input is ready to submit its report to the county in the hopes the park will be approved.

Along with elements like a walking trail, the Friends of Crystal Lake proposes giving a business such as a fishing or kayaking outfitter use of a building that once was home to Butler Marine in exchange for financial or in-kind support, Allard said.

The plan proposes three phases of development.

  • First, the fence around the property would be fixed to ensure safety.

  • Then, engineering studies would determine the best places for a walking trail and playground. The county would seek proposals from businesses and organizations interested in using the former Butler Marine building. Officials would look into using the Beaufort County High School Football Stadium lot for parking.

  • Third, a trail around Crystal Lake, a playground and a learning center would be built.

  • The Friends also suggest creating a public garden and holding nature and school-sponsored science programs at the park.

    "From the process of putting a Crystal Lake plan together, it has become very obvious that the majority of the Lady's Island and Beaufort residents are not aware of the lake or its potential contribution to the community," the report says.

    It's not clear how much the park would cost or who would pay for it, Allard said.

    The report will be sent to the county Planning Department. The county's Natural Resources Committee will discuss it and send it to County Council for a vote. Allard hoped a decision could be reached within six months.

    Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonBeaufort.

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    3. Crystal Lake park planned as preserve, May 16, 2006

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