The Dorchester County Parks and Recreation Master Plan was originally published in 2009. Since January of 2015, work has been ongoing to update the master plan based on current factors and public feedback. The goal of this process is to provide a clear path to developing a robust countywide park and recreation system. The 2016 Update was provided for County Council's consideration on 4/4/2016.
An updated, recurring annual costs estimate is provided below, and is based on personnel, operations and maintenance activities associated with Ashley River Park, Davis-Bailey Park, Pine Trace Natural Area, Rosebrock Park, Texas Community Park, multiple river access points, up to 7 miles of new trails, programs, special events, and athletics. Recurring funding is also proposed for trails, small capital projects, and outreach grants to community recreation providers. Please note these figures are initial ballpark estimates, and subject to the annual County budget process and approval by County Council. Further budget refinement will take place as new facilities prepare to come online.
Capital Bond Referendum(s)
On 11/8/16, Dorchester County voters approved 61% to 39% the Parks and Libraries Capital Bond Referendum. This should have provided $13M in park bond proceeds to develop and open Ashley River Park, Pine Trace Natural Area, Davis-Bailey Park, and various trail projects to the public. The pending litigation challenging the validity of the referendum prevented construction from starting on these park projects. The plaintiffs appealed an earlier decision by a lower court that completely dismissed the case to the SC State Supreme Court. This appeal was heard on October 18, 2018. On May, 8th, 2019, the SC State Supreme Court reversed the lower court's ruling, effectively tossing out the park construction funding.
On August 12th, 2019, Dorchester County Council passed third and final reading to place a $38M capital bond referendum on the November ballot to fund these long-awaited parks as well as priority trail projects. Ashley River Park and Davis-Bailey Park are completely designed and permitted and construction bids will be advertised as soon as funding is available.
Ashley River Park
Design development, construction drawings and permitting are completed for Ashley River Park. Construction is ready to be bid, but funding has not yet been secured. The unique 85 acre riverfront property will offer something for all ages and abilities with major features that include trails, fishing pond, event spaces, playground, splash fountain, dog park, ropes course, climbing wall, picnic areas and kayak launch. Construction is projected to be ready to commence in 2019 with a 12-15 month construction period. Naming rights and partnership opportunities are currently available through our partners at Friends of Dorchester County Parks. Visit the Ashley River Park page for more detailed project information.
Davis-Bailey Park (formerly Courthouse Park)
Davis-Bailey Park, recently named to honor longtime County Councilman Willie Davis and former state representative and current County Councilman George Bailey, has been ready for construction bidding since September of 2017. The bid process for construction will begin once funding is available. This true multiuse park will be a draw for the entire region featuring the following components: youth baseball fields, soccer/football field, basketball courts, paved walking trail, pond, great lawn, custom designed playground, adult fitness area, event pavilion, and splash fountain. Naming rights and partnership opportunities are currently available through our partners at Friends of Dorchester County Parks. Visit the Davis-Bailey Park page for more detailed project information.
Pine Trace Natural Area
A conceptual master plan for Pine Trace has been completed and the wetland permit for the site has been issued. This 300+ acre natural area will provide a forested oasis featuring trails, a pond, disc golf course, picnic shelter, outdoor classroom, dog parks, and will be the northern anchor for the Eagle Chandler Bridge Creek Multiuse Path.
Ashley River Blue Trail
The Ashley River Blue Trail Howard Bridgman Access at Bacon's Bridge opened to the public on December 2nd, 2017. The new access site, located at the front of Ashley River Park, provides public access to a unique stretch of river suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. As future plans for additional upstream access come to fruition, adventurers will be able to utilize a series of regular public launching points for trips of varying lengths from the headwaters of the Ashley River all the way to Charleston Harbor! Maps of the Ashley River Blue Trail are available by contacting Burt Connelly. Visit the Ashley River Access page for additional information on the blue trail.