County should buy tract along Okatie

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 23, 2012 

The public very much needs major county parks along the Okatie and May rivers, and it appears Beaufort County Council is about to let a terrific opportunity get away on the Okatie. It's one that would respond to the cry to "save the rivers" at the same time.

The owners of 28 acres along the Okatie River are a Lowcountry rarity in that they actually want a public park on the mile of river and marsh frontage. The potential park travels along a bluff of specimen oaks on land that would be great for hiking and bike trails, picnic areas, wildlife overlooks, environmental focus sites and school trips. Today, almost all of these resources south of the Broad River are accessed only through gated communities, inaccessible to the public.

The 28-acre Graves family site, admired by all who have driven by for decades, would be an exception, and it is conveniently just off of U.S. 278.

County Council should not let the well-known bureaucratic bickering, gamesmanship and personality issues of its staff kill this opportunity. It appears this same staff has let the incredible opportunity of landing Pinckney Point as an unparalleled public park get away, a tragedy unto itself, if that is the case. We just cannot let this site get away, particularly when the Graves family certainly appears to be asking a reasonable, 2012 price, despite county staff efforts to make it appear otherwise.

Please, don't let this one get away.

Jim Auld

Bluffton

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