Colonial Park project gets early Christmas present from HCF

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Charleston Parks Conservancy received a big donation Tuesday, but it's only a small part of the $5 million needed to fulfill their vision for Colonial Park.Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy, accepted $25,000 from Katharine Robinson, president and CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation.The HCF board voted unanimously to make the donation.

Lesesne says{} the renovation project is one way to bring the community closer to their parks.

"Early on, several years ago, some neighbors in this area identified Colonial Lake as a park that could use some beautification," he said. "It's a beautiful place, it's a beautiful park. It's well used and well loved but it could be so much more." The Charleston Parks Conservancy teamed up with the City of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation to plan the $5 million renovation to Colonial Park. They want to transform the area into a public park similar to Waterfront Park.

Rutledge and Ashley streets will be narrowed to slow traffic and make the walkways safer for walkers and joggers. Gardens are planned for each of the four corners and lighted, landscaped promenades will line each surrounding street including a line of oak trees along Ashley Ave.

Officials also have plans to improve the water quality in the lake basin for local wildlife and neighborhood pets.

A new flushing system will be installed to keep water levels constant, adding depth to disguise the basin's muddy bottom.

"To look at the lake now, we know it's a beautiful spot," said Robinson. "To think that it's going to be enhanced greatly and be even more beautiful with the plants, the shrubs, the trees. It's all been so carefully designed to be filled with indigenous plants to Charleston to recreate the character and culture that is so evident in this historic city. It's just going to be another even better icon."The City of Charleston has already given $4 million to the project and the Conservancy is raising funds from private sources for the remaining $1 million to cover construction costs, plus an additional $200,000 for ongoing park maintenance.

"We looked at this project and said we'd really like to get involved," said Robinson. "Our mission at Historic Charleston Foundation is to preserve and protect the architecture, culture and history of this city and this park has all of those elements."

The deadline to raise at least $700,000 is September 2014.Construction is slated to start as early as May of next year with completion estimated for June 2015. Bidding for the job is scheduled for next April.

Charleston area residents can support the upcoming Colonial Lake renovation by clicking here.

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