The Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline (FLL) presented a conceptual design study to the City of Charleston on Tues. Feb. 11. The study outlines the potential benefits of the Lowline, a stretch of land down the middle of the peninsula that could serve as a walkable linear park, similar in concept to New York's High Line or Atlanta's BeltLine
The proposed path includes a pedestrian walkway with a bikeway running along more than half, with space for proposed cultural events and diverse plant life.
The Lowline is a roughly two-mile tract that connects Marion Square and Mt. Pleasant Street that supporters hope will weave downtown, West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant, and North Charleston together for improved mobility and decreased traffic.
"You've got a nice combo going when it comes to transportation," Katie Zimmerman, Charleston Moves' executive director, says. "When you have an entire north-south route like that that takes you the bulk of the peninsula, I think it's going to spur people to make different choices in how they get around. I think more and more people are going to leave their cars at home."
[image-1] Details are still up in the air, but FLL has high hopes for the the park beyond its transportation implications, claiming that the redeveloped stretch could help store rainwater runoff sustainably in accordance with recommendations from the Dutch Dialogues, a long-term water management study the city completed in 2019.
At a Recreation Committee meeting on Tuesday, Lowline representative Scott Parker requested an annual contribution of $150,000 from the city. "I want to ask today for you to fully commit to this, with the knowledge that that money will be leveraged many, many times over to enhance the lives of all the citizens of Charleston," he said.
Mayor John Tecklenburg and Councilmembers Jason Sakran and Harry Griffin noted their support for the project, but Sakran and Griffin both raised funding as a possible sticking point. "A project like this is easy to get behind in conception, but it always comes down to the money," Griffin said.
[image-2] Councilmember William Gregorie said that the city will need to find where the funds will come from before they commit to $150,000. "We are not saying 'No,' but we just don't want to go forward blindly," he said.
Friends of Lowcountry Lowline plans to begin a public comment period soon to gather reactions from residents, including those in the neighborhoods where the Lowline will be built. Tom Bradford, FLL's co-founder says they are working with City of Charleston staff to establish a schedule for public comments. He is hopeful that an announcement can be made next week with more details on how residents can submit feedback.
FLL has not provided a cost estimate or design specifics, but Parker says he would like to have a plan within a year. These are "not final plans by any means," but opportunities, he told the Recreation Committee on Tuesday.