Crystal Lake park planned as preserve

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Crystal Lake park planned as preserve

By GREG HAMBRICK<br>The Beaufort Gazette
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2006 in The Island Packet  |  510 Words  |  /BeaufortGazette/local_news

Residents and county planners offered suggestions Monday for Lady's Island's first park, hoping to provide space for family activities and a preserve for the picturesque 6-acre Crystal Lake.'
Since late 2004, the county has spent more than $2.5 million through its Rural and Critical Lands Preservation program buying about 13 acres around the lake. In early 2005, the Stewart family, including County Councilman Dick Stewart, donated the lake to the county.'
Identifying park space on Lady's Island, home to nearly 12,000 people, has been a tough hurdle for county officials struggling with the high cost of land and few tracts large enough for park development.'
"(Crystal Lake) is a little bit of nature left in so much that is going on around it," said Truitt Rabun, a planner with LandPlan Partnership of Hilton Head Isalnd. LandPlan is being paid about $25,000 to develop the conceptual master plan for the park.'
Suggestions for the park were made at a special meeting Monday of the Lady's Island Community Preservation Committee, a resident advisory panel for zoning and development decisions. LandPlan is expected to return to the volunteer committee June 19 with a conceptual plan for the park, followed by broader community meetings to gather more input from residents.'
Because of established limitations in the Rural and Critical Lands program, the park cannot be developed for ball parks and soccer fields. '
Although park development will stress preserving the rural character of the property, residents stressed Monday that the park also should be welcoming to families and children.'
"I'd like the family to get some reason to go there and do something besides looking at it," said resident Charles Schreiner, a member of the Community Preservation Committee.'
Ideas for the park include a large open area for picnics and other recreational uses and walking or interpretive trails. The lake also could be used for fishing, kayaking or paddle boats.'
"The water is what makes this park different than any other park," said Lady's Island resident Roger Talmage. "That's the selling point."'
The county likely will look for support in providing access to the park from Beaufort High School and St. Peter's Catholic Church. The high school could offer additional public parking at its football stadium, and St. Peter's owns a small part of the lake. The county could provide access to the park for church and school students and possibly assist each with stormwater management.'
"It's going to be a benefit to everyone," said Jim Hicks, a Lady's Island resident and chairman of the county's Planning Commission.'
The planning and development of the park will be paid for through $150,000 in seller contributions from multiple land owners, including donations from other properties purchased on Lady's island through the rural land program.'
The money should be enough to clear portions of the property and provide parking and pleasant fencing, said Russ Marane, local coordinator for the Trust for Public Land, the county's land buying partner.