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Latest News in West Ashley, SC

SCDNR awarded $1.5 million to restore West Ashley tidal marsh

SCDNR NewsCHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C.Last week, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was awarded $1.5 million to work with partners and volunteers in the Charleston area to restore seven acres of degraded salt marsh in a historically important area. The project will unfold over four years and use volunteers to plant salt marsh grasses and construct oyster reefs through SCDNR’s South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) Program."We’re ecstatic to receive fun...

SCDNR News

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C.

Last week, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was awarded $1.5 million to work with partners and volunteers in the Charleston area to restore seven acres of degraded salt marsh in a historically important area. The project will unfold over four years and use volunteers to plant salt marsh grasses and construct oyster reefs through SCDNR’s South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) Program.

"We’re ecstatic to receive funding for this project," said Michael Hodges, SCDNR shellfish biologist and lead on the project. "We’re excited that we will get to involve so many volunteers and partners in the project’s implementation. This will be a unique project, using novel, nature-based solutions to restore the degraded tidal marsh in this historically significant part of the Lowcountry."

Granted by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, the award is one of eight funded across the country and represents a continuation of federally funded work on Old Towne Creek in West Ashley. Phase one of the project, led by the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT), involved developing engineering and design plans for coastal marshes in West Ashley. A team led by Dr. Joel E. Kostka, Professor and Associate Chair for Research in the Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at GT, will lead post-restoration monitoring and quantify habitat improvements as well as collaborate with SCDNR to train volunteers and citizen scientists. Other partners in this phase of the project will include Robinson Design Engineers and the South Carolina Aquarium.

"This project is a win-win for the Charleston area as it will restore critical wildlife habitat while strengthening the resilience of the coastline to damage from storms and erosion made worse by climate change," said Dr. Kostka. "We at Georgia Tech are excited to participate in the project, in particular to leverage science to develop metrics and improve strategies that will ensure the success of nature-based restoration activities across the U.S."

The restoration site is in what was formerly Maryville, a small town with an important role in Charleston’s history. Chartered and settled in 1886, Maryville was one of the area’s most prominent settlement communities – self-sustaining, all-Black communities that offered the region’s formerly enslaved population safer places to buy land, raise families, and pursue farming or trades in the Jim Crow-era South.

Despite later annexation by the city of Charleston and rapid development of surrounding West Ashley, the area is still known to some locals – including descendants of the town’s founders – as Maryville.

Old Towne Creek is the tidal waterway that connects this area to the nearby Ashley River. In 1670, it saw the first English settlers arrive and establish ‘Charles Towne’ on its banks. Later, the fishermen of Maryville plied its waters for crab, oysters and fish. Today, the creek is popular among kayakers and birdwatchers. But like many urban waterways, Old Towne Creek and its surrounding marshes have degraded over time, particularly after a severe drought in 2012 and another salt marsh dieback event in 2016. Researchers have found that the salt marsh within the project area has not recovered naturally like other areas with similar conditions.

The recent $1.5 million in funding will allow for the restoration and monitoring of seven acres of degraded salt marsh through community-based restoration efforts. Members of the community and the Ashleyville-Maryville Neighborhood Association, who initially noticed that the marsh vegetation was dying back, participated in the initial site assessment and will now be engaged as volunteers in the restoration.

SCDNR biologists have been constructing ‘living shorelines’ – shorelines made of natural materials – for two decades, primarily using recycled oyster shells. These shells attract young oysters, which settle on the hard materials and collectively grow into reef structures that filter waterways, provide habitat for fish and buffer shorelines from erosion.

Please click here to sign up to receive updates about marsh restoration volunteer events.

For additional information, contact: Erin Weeks at (843) 729-3531 WeeksE@dnr.sc.gov

West Ashley neighbors concerned about flooding almost entering their homes

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCSC) - Neighbors in a West Ashley community say they are frustrated and anxious after floodwater crept up to their homes, and a potential solution could be a few years away.Bennett Barton and Rachel Brunette said Thursday’s rainstorms flooded both the road and their backyards, almost getting into their houses. They said as cars passed by, the wake would go up and slap against their front doors.“This is my first house; I didn’t know what to expect,” Barton said. “I started panick...

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCSC) - Neighbors in a West Ashley community say they are frustrated and anxious after floodwater crept up to their homes, and a potential solution could be a few years away.

Bennett Barton and Rachel Brunette said Thursday’s rainstorms flooded both the road and their backyards, almost getting into their houses. They said as cars passed by, the wake would go up and slap against their front doors.

“This is my first house; I didn’t know what to expect,” Barton said. “I started panicking. I couldn’t leave to get sandbags or any preventative measures because the road was flooded, too.”

They said as cars passed by, the wake would go up and slap against their front doors.

“At one point, I even got pitchers and just was pouring them into my sink from my screened-in porch,” Barton said. Didn’t do anything, but it made me ease my mind a little bit.”

The Woodlands neighborhood is part of the Dupont Wappoo Watershed, which consists of around 1,000 acres of West Ashley surrounding the Citadel Mall.

The City of Charleston said they are spending $5 million on four out of the 10 scheduled projects to improve downstream water flow under Interstate 526. Once that is done, the city will be increasing the size of pipes and canals near the Woodlands neighborhood to get the water out faster.

“There’s not a lot of elevation change to make that water flow very quickly,” Charleston Director of Stormwater Management Matthew Fountain said, “so those very small ditches don’t work for how much pavement, how many buildings we have in the basin now.”

Brunette said it is not uncommon for her to have to check the weather radar before she leaves for work.

“So, when I’m away for the day, I have to be prepared that whether my windows are open, whether the dog is in or out, and like you said if the vehicle is in the right place in case it does flood,” Brunette said. “There’s been a couple of cars that have been flooded out. The landscaping, you can’t keep decent landscaping. It washes away.”

The city said they are optimistic construction on the projects will start in 2025, but until then, Barton said his anxiety will continue.

“If it had rained for two more hours or it was going into high tide, I think my living room would have been underwater,” Barton said. “Who knows how much that would have cost?”

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Behre: Are West Ashley homes important enough to preserve? Owners must ultimately decide.

The two-story brick home at 8 Stocker Drive in Charleston’s Old Windermere neighborhood seems to have changed little since it was built shortly after World War II, as the suburban growth expanded across the Ashley River.By the time some of you read this, the house may be gone.Not because it cannot be renovated, but because Charleston has no rules on the books to slow its demolition, much less stop it. The home is no longer owned by the same family that had owned it since 1946. A new LLC bought it for $1.1 million, pulled ...

The two-story brick home at 8 Stocker Drive in Charleston’s Old Windermere neighborhood seems to have changed little since it was built shortly after World War II, as the suburban growth expanded across the Ashley River.

By the time some of you read this, the house may be gone.

Not because it cannot be renovated, but because Charleston has no rules on the books to slow its demolition, much less stop it. The home is no longer owned by the same family that had owned it since 1946. A new LLC bought it for $1.1 million, pulled a demolition permit last week and plans to tear down the old house and replace it with two new ones.

Neighbors grew alarmed but soon learned there’s not much they can do. At least as far as this property goes. Only time will tell if they rally enough support before another old home is at risk of being lost.

There’s a glimmer of hope: The city plans a public meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Gaillard Auditorium to talk to residents in Old Windermere, South Windermere and Byrnes Downs about how they can safeguard the character of their mid-20th-century neighborhoods. With rising real estate prices and their close proximity to downtown, the pressure for change can only be expected to grow. If residents show enough interest, the city could hire a consultant to do a historical and architectural survey of these homes, likely early next year, Planning Director Robert Summerfield says.

After that survey is finished, the discussion of potential protections can kick into a more serious gear. Then residents must decide if they want to urge City Council to adopt regulations regarding future demolitions or major renovations or new construction or some mix of all that.

These three neighborhoods appear to share a certain historical character as far as the age, size and style of most homes; an architectural survey would lay the legal groundwork for their possible protection, Summerfield says. Specifically, it would determine how many homes are in their original (or semi-original) state in terms of materials, massing, architectural elements and the like. While a home may look beautiful, it might have been altered to the point where it no longer contributes to the neighborhood’s history.

The city’s preservation groups stand ready to help, but it has to be residents — or more specifically, city voters — who take the lead. “We’ve had our hands bit or stung by accusations of ‘overreaching’ into other parts of the city. We’ve heard comments like, ‘We don’t want your BAR,’ ‘Keep your downtown stuff,’” says Historic Charleston Foundation CEO Winslow Hastie. “The neighborhoods need to be organized, and there has to be some consensus from them before we can get involved on an advocacy front.”

At 8 Stocker, the developer shouldn’t be seen as the bad guy. The lot is unusually large and can comfortably fit a second home (the city needs all the new homes it can get). Ideally, the existing home would be renovated rather than razed, but it’s also possible to design and build new homes that would fit in.

Meanwhile, this issue extends way beyond Windermere. Last year, preservationists drew attention to a vacant, historic cottage on Camp Road.

More recently, others are trying to draw attention to the unusual small stone house that survives at 1731 Savannah Highway, in the city’s auto mile.

And the Preservation Society is trying to safeguard the future of a brick home at 1332 Ashley River Road. The latter was built around 1939 and was home to state legislator and businessman Isaac D. Peek, a key figure in West Ashley’s development. (As a highway commissioner, he helped construct St. Andrews Boulevard, and his company created the Avondale subdivision.)

The Preservation Society notes the home is worthy of National Historic Register status, but its future is unclear. While Stocker Drive remains a desirable place to live, fewer want a home along heavily congested sections of Savannah Highway or Ashley River Road.

The vision stated in the city’s Plan West Ashley says, “Preservation of neighborhood character is a primary concern,” but any new steps toward that must emerge from a rich stew of public opinion regarding property rights and values, accommodating growth and what local history is valued. West Ashley residents must take the lead and make it clear what they want.

West Ashley defense comes up big again with shutout of Berkeley

The West Ashley defense came into Friday night’s game against Berkeley with one of the top defenses in the Lowcountry.In three games, the Wildcats had given up just one touchdown.The Wildcats did nothing to hurt their reputation against the Stags.West Ashley running back William Washington rushed for 94 yards and scored one touchdown to lead the Wildcats past Berkeley, 26-0, Friday night before a rain-soaked crowd of about 2,000 at West Ashley High School.The Wildcats (4-0) smothered the Stags (1-3) offense ...

The West Ashley defense came into Friday night’s game against Berkeley with one of the top defenses in the Lowcountry.

In three games, the Wildcats had given up just one touchdown.

The Wildcats did nothing to hurt their reputation against the Stags.

West Ashley running back William Washington rushed for 94 yards and scored one touchdown to lead the Wildcats past Berkeley, 26-0, Friday night before a rain-soaked crowd of about 2,000 at West Ashley High School.

The Wildcats (4-0) smothered the Stags (1-3) offense all night, allowing just 73 yards of total offense. West Ashley has given up just 13 points in their first four games of the season.

“The defense has played really well all season,” said West Ashley coach Donnie Kiefer. “We don’t have the offensive weapons we had last year, so we knew we were going to have to rely on our defense. I know Berkeley was missing a couple of their kids and that probably slowed them down, but I just really appreciate what our defensive kids have done all season.”

A year ago, the Wildcats were forced to use five or six players on both offense and defense. Kiefer was determined to add more depth throughout the program so player would not have to play both ways.

“We brought up some sophomores that maybe should be playing on junior varsity, but we need them to step up and they’ve done a good job,” Kiefer said. “It might hurt our junior varsity team, but those kids can help us right now.”

While West Ashley’s offense might not be as explosive as they have been in the past, the Wildcats controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to roll up more than 250 rushing yards. The Wildcats attempted just one pass.

“We’ve got to control the ball and shorten the game,” Kiefer said. “We don’t have a big offensive line, but those coaches have done a great job preparing them every week.”

Terry Grant got the scoring going late in the first half when he capped a 62-yard dive with a 1-yard TD run with 2:57 left in the quarter.

Washington’s 24-yard TD run gave the Wildcats a 13-0 advantage with 4:58 left before halftime.

Zamarie Campbell extended the Wildcats advantage to 19-0 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jerrell Rivers’ 48-yard TD run gave the Wildcats a 26-0 lead with 6:35 left in the game.

One of the biggest ovations came on the ensuing kickoff when Wildcats’ place kicker Mary Kathryn Smoak kicked off and then made the tackle.

“The kids loved it, she works hard and does a great job for us,” Kiefer said.

Glenn McConnell extension project proposed to reach Summerville

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County residents will be voting in November on whether to continue paying a “transportation penny,” a one-cent tax that funds road improvement projects.There are dozens of projects waiting for funding including one, in particular, looking to help alleviate traffic congestion from Highway 61, especially the area from Paul Cantrell Boulevard in West Ashley.“It’s been pretty rough,” says Adam Ruffin, who lives off of Hwy 61. “Basically single file line...

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County residents will be voting in November on whether to continue paying a “transportation penny,” a one-cent tax that funds road improvement projects.

There are dozens of projects waiting for funding including one, in particular, looking to help alleviate traffic congestion from Highway 61, especially the area from Paul Cantrell Boulevard in West Ashley.

“It’s been pretty rough,” says Adam Ruffin, who lives off of Hwy 61. “Basically single file line of cars and standstill traffic.

Ruffin and his wife live off the two-lane road and know it’s only going to get worse with all of the development going up. One person who’s working on some of the new neighborhoods is Paul Cook who has to drive 61 every day.

“I can’t believe people don’t find an alternate route to take because the traffic here is horrendous both going in and out,” Cook says.

“Certainly, I’m no expert in the field of traffic but something definitely needs to be done to alleviate some of that traffic out there,” Ruffin says.

A plan is in the works to extend Glenn McConnell Parkway. The parkway currently ends at Bees Ferry Road in West Ashley. But if the proposal goes through, it will keep going into Dorchester County where, according to maps, it would intersect with Old Beech Hill Road and connect to Wright Road, essentially running parallel to Highway 61.

“It will definitely help with people getting to and from work and alleviate a lot of the smaller back roads,” Gregory Maute, who lives along Wright Road, says. “But then if it’s tying in here, it’s going to impact my neighbors and myself and the people that live down the road.”

Maute says this was the first time he was hearing about the project and can see some positives and negatives.

“It would make us more accessible,” Maute says. “But then yes, if they’re widening this road and you know doing two or three lanes each way, that becomes from a country road to a well-traveled road -- a lot of traffic and all that so it’s can be a little bit of a double-edged sword.”

The big question: How would it be funded? Dorchester County says the 1% sales and use tax would generate approximately $735 million. The county’s Capital Improvement Plan calls for nearly $168 million to be allocated for the Glenn McConnell Extension.

Dorchester County leaders say the Public Works director would be happy to talk if the tax is passed by voters in November.

Meanwhile, Maute says he thinks the tax shouldn’t be funded by people who already live there.

“I believe that if it’s going to be funded, it needs to be impact funds on the hundreds of homes that are going in across the area,” Maute says. “Seventy-two people a day are moving here. So we need to not foot the bill.”

Dorchester County residents already pay one cent towards road improvements and have for nearly 20 years. This vote in November would be to continue that tax.

Charleston County officials say they are not currently a part of the extension project.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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