A public park named for two Beaufort County Sherif's Office deputies killed in the line of duty 10 years ago has opened on Lady's Island.
County crews are putting the finishing touches on the 25.1-acre Coursen-Tate Memorial Park, which has two baseball diamonds, two multi-use soccer and football fields, a picnic pavilion and playground.
The $1.2 million park is on Springfield Road near its intersection with Sams Point Road.
The park is named for Cpl. Dyke "A.J." Coursen, 35, and Lance Cpl. Dana Lyle Tate, 43, who were shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance Jan. 8, 2002. Both men lived on Lady's Island with their families at the time of the shooting.
Although the park has officially opened, Sheriff P.J. Tanner is delaying a formal dedication until a plaque featuring a likeness of the two deputies is finished. The dedication would have occurred sooner, but earlier versions of the plaque didn't look quite right, he said.
Tanner called the park a fitting tribute to the two men.
"It's a great location for it. It's needed on Lady's Island. And the thing that fits with the dedication of Coursen-Tate is the fact that it's a park. It's where people go to have fun. There are sporting events; there are children. Everything about it is a positive," Tanner said.
County officials have been considering a park on Lady's Island for some time but only in the past few years was sufficient land acquired to build it, said Beaufort County Councilman Paul Sommerville, who represents the area.
Most properties suitable for a park on Lady's Island were building tracts along the waterfront. The asking prices for those properties, pre-housing bust, were "stratospheric," Sommerville recalled.
"I think it's well done, given how difficult it was to cobble together this 25-plus acres on Lady's Island that we can afford," he said.
Construction on the park finished in May, and youth sports leagues will begin using the site this fall. Rob McFee, Beaufort County's engineering and infrastructure director, said officials wanted to make sure the grass had time to properly set for several months before opening it up for league play.
County crews are working to cover drainage ditches at both sides of the park's multi-use fields, McFee said. That project should be finished in time for the Lady's Island Falcons youth football team to begin playing home games at the site next month.
If all goes well, county officials hope to the broadcast the Falcons first home game on Sept. 8 live on The County Channel.