The proposed design to strengthen the seawall along the Low Battery continues to drive aspirational conversations between City Council members.
Charleston’s Design Division proposed the plan following public input results in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change and subsequent flooding..
The current plan will replace and raise the sea wall by 2.5 feet and remove most on-street parking facing the waterfront along the longer, residential edge of the Low Battery. The design would remove waterfront parking and the central median in favor of linear, green space along the garden edge of the Low Battery.
City planning director Jacob Lindsey, whose efforts were profiled in CP in July, proposed a slight update to the design at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that does not eliminate vehicular access to the garden edge but takes away most of the parking on water side of the residential edge.
Raising the railing, along with raising the sidewalk, would add five feet of storm surge protection to the Low Battery, according to Lindsey.
“We’re recommending to elevate the wall itself,” Lindsey said referencing a previous plan to only raise the actual sidewalk along the path.
Lindsey recommended essentially flip-flopping the parking configuration of the Low Battery design.
“To get the sidewalk up on the wall side, if you have a car there, your door is gonna open right into the wall [when the sidewalk is raised],” Lindsey said. “Today we have all parking on the water side, bumper to bumper. The land side has very few vehicles, and what this design would do is eliminate some, but maybe not all, of the parking on the water side.”
District 12 council member Kathleen Wilson asked for this update specifically because she will not be in legislative body for much longer. Wilson was defeated by Carol Jackson in November’s election by a 58-42 margin.
“I would like very much to see the parking retained,” Wilson said. “Perhaps take proceeds of that and apply it to some of the repair costs. I relish the opportunity to go downtown and park somewhere along that seawall and take a walk.”
A few of the council members expressed support for building public restrooms along the Low Battery. These plans are included in the Design Division’s preferred design.
District eight council member Mike Seekings, who is also the chairman of CARTA, expressed frustration with the lack of short-term parking options for visitors of the Low Battery.
“There is not public parking for people who are there for a short or medium period of time,” Seekings said. “It is essentially an overflow parking lot for the college with some food and bev people and some people who work on Broad Street, if they’re lucky enough to park. The people parking there are squatters, they’re parking there for free and forever.”
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