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Recreation: New park facilities will really be green space

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County wants to be “as environmentally sensitive as possible” in its development of a new park in Litchfield, the county’s director of parks and recreation, Beth Goodale, told members of the Sierra Club and League of Women Voters this week.

The county is looking at pervious paving for walking trails and other paved surfaces as much as possible at Stables Park. And for structures, “we want state-of-the-art buildings that are also very environmentally friendly,” Goodale said.

“We will look at anything we can do to improve daylighting and energy efficiency to lower operations and maintenance costs.”

Preserving trees, including “landmark” oaks on the site, will be a priority.

“I’ve seen areas where parks are just clear-cut fields and we don’t want that,” Goodale said.

Preserving trees led the list of concerns for both groups, along with stormwater runoff.

“We know what we consider to be landmark trees,” one member said, but she wanted to know what kind of trees the county considered to be landmark. Tree protection rules the county passed earlier this year state that certain trees, including most varieties of oaks and hickory trees with a trunk diameter of at least 8 inches are protected.

Plans call for green areas where some of the larger trees are, Goodale said. They’ll make good locations for benches and picnic areas. She pointed out a large Carolina bay with a concentration of oaks around it on the plans.

“That lends itself to a dramatic, beautiful area for passive recreation,” she said.

Goodale was also asked how the creation of 600 parking spots shown on plans would affect trees on the property. She pointed out that many of those spots wouldn’t be created until the second phase of the county’s capital improvement plan, about 20 years down the road. When the county does come to that part of the plan, a number of small parking areas will be created for a smaller impact.

“We don’t want to do just a big square of parking. We want to kind of meander that along,” she said.

Asked about how to keep fertilizer used on the fields, along with other chemicals from being carried into the Carolina bay, Goodale pointed to a number of retention ponds around the site. The use of pervious paving materials will also aid in keeping pollutants from flowing into the bay, she said.

Goodale also fielded concerns about lighting, security and an archeological survey of the park property.

Lighting technology, she said, has “come a long way” and there are many options to eliminate the spillover of light from park facilities. The county wants to be a good neighbor to communities bordering the park, she said, and technology and natural buffers will be used to prevent light pollution.

“They’re making some very environmentally friendly lighting as well, and we’re definitely looking at that,” she said.

The parks will be closed at night, except during special events, and the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office will patrol in the area to help deter vandalism and other illegal activities from occurring at the park.

As for the archaeological survey, Goodale said it found nothing significant.

Though development of the park hasn’t started, Goodale said a number of people are already using for dog walking. She encouraged folks to go see the property for themselves.

She also encouraged them to be involved with the development process by sharing concerns and ideas with either her or their County Council member.

“The more we all talk, the more we’re all on the same page and can work together,” she said. “That’s my goal is that we’re all in this together.”

Georgetown County Council’s annual review of the capital improvement plan will be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. during its regular meeting in council chambers.

The plan is available at georgetowncountysc.org.

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