Beaufort News

Supporters ask city council's help to upgrade Beaufort's Washington Street park

  • Almost 70 years after it opened, a traditionally black park in Beaufort's historic district remains a popular gathering place and central part of the Northwest Quadrant neighborhood.
  • But unlike the heavily renovated Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park and Pigeon Point Park, the civic space at 1011 Newcastle St. remains incomplete, the primary missing component being public restrooms, according to Henrietta Goode, a co-creator and leader of the Northwest Quadrant neighborhood association.

    Goode asked for Beaufort City Council's support during a work shop Tuesday to help the neighborhood get public restrooms at the site, commonly known as the Washington Street park.

    "I've spoken to the neighbors in the association," Goode said. "We are definitely going to work toward raising funds to help."

    The site's legal name -- Beaufort County Negro Recreational Center for Negro Children -- hints at its rich history. It opened in 1942 and for years was the only park where black children were legally allowed to play in Beaufort, Goode said.

    A main stay in the black community during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the park also was the original location for Decoration Day -- or Memorial Day -- celebrations, she added.

    Today it plays host to regular park activities and weekly community dinners.

    In January 2007, Goode, her husband and a few of their friends started the 'Friday Night Supper Project' to help less fortunate members of the community.

    Since then, Carteret Street United Methodist Church has started hosting the supper program on Thursdays as well.

    "We call the suppers in the park 'Common Ground' because everyone brings something to the table," Goode said. "It has now become a place where everyone is equal."

    City Council members appeared supportive of exploring funding possibilities for the restrooms.

    City Manager Scott Dadson pointed to the restroom facility installed during Pigeon Point Park's community-led renovation that cost $65,000 and was funded through a state grant. The city could look for similar grant funding for the Washington Street park, Dadson said.

    Council also got a glimpse of visions for the park's future.

    Beaufort Parks Superintendent Eliza Hill said she sat down with Goode and came up with a range of needs and wants.

    The plan proposes a major overhaul with two playground areas -- one for 2-to 5-year-olds and another for older children. It also included a full-size basketball court, volleyball court, picnic area, pavilion and additional open space.

    Mayor Billy Keyserling suggested Goode and other residents present the plan to the city's Office of Civic Investment, which is in the middle of creating a strategic growth and development plan for the area.

    "It's very likely we would see something like this incorporated into what they're doing," Keyserling said.