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Greenbelt Bank Board Meeting – March 1

Some “amazing” applications for rural grants
Preservation groups introduce themselves
Warwick Jones

So far 25 applications for rural grants have been received by the Greenbelt Bank, Project Manager Cathy Ruff told the board members today. The total is likely to be higher by the March 30 deadline. “Pre-application meetings” have been scheduled with 9 other potential applicants. A board member asked as to the acreage involved in all the applications. Ms. Ruff could not answer the question but opined that some of the projects were “amazing”

Workshop draws 44 attendees
Ms. Ruff also commented that the Greenbelt Application workshop had been successful with 44 attendees. Representatives of a number of the municipalities were present including those from the cities of Charleston and North Charleston, and the towns of Mount Pleasant, Hollywood, Isle of Palms, Ravenel and James Island. She also noted that the Bank was concerned only with Rural Grants, funding for which through the half cent sales tax, amounts to $66.5 million. Urban Grants go before the Urban Review Committee and the Parks and Recreation Committees. The funding for Urban Grants from the half cent sales tax amounts to $28.5 million. However, allocations are made to the municipalities on the basis of their population – e.g. the City of Charleston has about 34.7% of the County’s population so therefore, projects in the City will in aggregate receive 34.7% of all Urban Grants funds.

Preservation groups introduce themselves
While applications are being gathered, the Board took the opportunity today, and as in previous meetings this year, to further its knowledge. Three members of historical preservation groups made short presentations about their organizations. Ms. Cynthia Jenkins noted the strong and historic role of the Preservation Society of which she is Executive Director. It had 3000 members and tended to concentrate more on structures and their settings. But it had been involved in rural preservation.

Mr.George McDaniel, on the Board of Drayton Hall spoke of his concern about urban sprawl and the loss of historical sites and structures. Charleston was unique in the US with the intermingling of culture and history. Drayton Hall was concerned about the area along the Ashley River and was trying to contain sprawl. It was also negotiating to acquire two parcels of marshland that were adjacent to the Plantation.

Mr.Winslow Hastie is Director of Preservation of the Historic Charleston Foundation. He noted the role that the HCF had played in Charleston particularly with the creation of easements and the desire to protect the historic and natural landscapes He applauded the creation of the Bank and noted the need to preserve “what is left in the County”.

No up-to-date surveys of historical sites available
Ms. Jenkins also noted that there were no current surveys of historic or archaeological sites in Charleston. The last historic site survey available was done some 30 years ago. She opined that the State has lots of information on archaeological sites but was loathe releasing the information because of fears that sites would be looted. She noted the recent decision to allow the Fort Pemberton property to be subdivided. Little work had been done on the site and City zoning regulations allowed its development. The inference was that if more information had been available and zoning more sensitive, the subdivision may not have been possible.

Her comments provoked further discussion about lost sites with Board member Lane noting that the siege line in the War of Independence ran along Calhoun and Johns Streets. Ms Jenkins also noted that the original gate to the walled city was under Marion Square.

The next meeting is on Thursday April 5.

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