By Kristin Hackler
A greenway is scheduled to be discussed during the next City of Charleston Planning Commission meeting on October 20, but it’s not the greenway you might think. Proposed by Trees SC (formerly SC Urban and Community Forestry Council), the Johns Island Greenways Plan is the brainchild of Charleston City arborist and zoning division Principal Planner Eric Schultz, and College of Charleston graduate student Ryan Bollinger. Funded partially with a grant from the SC Forestry Commission, Schultz and Bollinger found that they could get the ball rolling on at least two of the recommendations listed in the 2007 Johns Island Community Plan: build a network of walking and bike paths within the urban growth boundary while at the same time preserving large areas of tree canopy.
With the goal of “preserving green spaces, providing opportunities for alternative modes of transportation and connecting people with natural, historical and scenic resources,” Bollinger gave a brief synopsis of how the network could potentially be achieved. The Greenway would theoretically connect Angel Oak Park, Haut Gap Middle, the Johns Island Branch Library, Trophy Lakes, Johns Island Park, the front portion of Fenwick Hall, and Fort Trenholm (and earthen mound dating from the Civil War located near the Johns Island airport property), along with other places that might be suggested in the future. The trails would be divided into sections and labeled according to their destinations, such as the Five Lakes Trail (a trail that would connect the Whitney Lake subdivision next to Trophy Lakes to the Johns Island Park), the Historic Sites Trail (connecting Fort Trenholm to Fenwick Hall Plantation) and the Park to Park Trail (connecting Angel Oak Park to the Johns Island Park). In addition, the entire network would potentially connect with the West Ashley Greenway via an old rail line which intersects River Road near Brownswood Road and travels across the Stono in the heart of West Ashley.
The trails would also be used as a method for preserving areas of tree canopy throughout the Urban Growth Boundary. According to the proposed plan, the City of Charleston’s goal is to have 40% tree canopy coverage in developed areas, and by preserving tracts of untouched forest now, the trails could assist in preserving large areas of tree canopy for the future.
“The network is extensive, but we have not identified the use of any specific trails,” said Shultz, stating that they will determine the best locations for trails in the future. For now, the Johns Island Greenways Plan is very much in the conceptual stages.
“We’re working on getting the plan adopted and forming a trail advisory committee,” said Bollinger, “then we’ll identify and complete a priority list for completion.”
Shultz and Bollinger asked for the support of the Johns Island Council and residents of Johns Island during the City of Charleston Planning Commission meeting on October 20, and thanked the Council for their time.
The City of Charleston Planning Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 20, at 5 p.m. at 75 Calhoun Street, downtown, in the third Floor Conference Room. For more information, visit www.charlestoncity.info or call 724-3731. The Johns Island Greenways Plan can be found on the “Planning and Neighborhoods” page under the “City Departments, Boards & Commissions” section of the City of Charleston homepage.