Beaufort, SC (Oct. 25, 2018) — The much anticipated purchase of 9.72 acres of scenic, riverfront land on Lady’s Island in the City of Beaufort, commonly known as the Whitehall Tract, to be permanently preserved as a passive park, was finalized on October 23.
Announcement of the purchase closing was made by Barbara G. Holmes, Director of Land Protection for the Open Land Trust, Administrator of Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program.
“We are thrilled that this magnificent and iconic property will now be permanently protected for public access, recreation and education,” said Holmes, pointing out that the parcel, directly fronting the Beaufort River across from Henry C. Chambers Park in downtown Beaufort, was part of a larger 20-acre property formerly owned by First Chatham Bank.
“The closing concludes an intense three-month approval process between the seller, the County and the City of Beaufort that was fueled by strong community advocacy efforts,” noted Holmes. Purchase price for the acreage was $5,450,000 with $4,371,000 in funds allocated from Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Land’s Program, and the balance of funds coming from the Felburn Foundation, the Beaufort County Open Land Trust and public donations. Additionally, the seller has committed beneficial in-kind services and contributions toward development of the park.
Paul Sommerville, Chairman of Beaufort County Council, said the purchase “is a major milestone” and praised the “huge community support that made it possible for all of us to enjoy this magnificent place today, tomorrow and beyond.”
Community support efforts were spearheaded by the Friends of Whitehall Park, who organized immediately after learning the project was a possibility. “Paul Butare, president of the organization and its board members quickly recognized that a call to action in engaging the public could be the key to success,” pointed out Holmes. “Their organization, with the aid of several internet initiatives to generate support, garnered more than 6,000 signatures, staged events and encouraged positive public discourse at public meetings and with direct public official contact.”
The initiative was also fortunate to receive early financial support from the Felburn Foundation, a private foundation with a mission to promote the preservation of natural lands, waters, biodiversity, education and quality of life. The Foundation provided a $1 million grant to leverage County and other funds for purchase of the park. Holmes said Larry White, President of the Felburn Foundation and a Lady’s Island resident, “was unwavering, and always a positive presence at the public meetings in support of a passive park at Whitehall.”
Whitehall Park is owned by Beaufort County and the City of Beaufort has agreed to maintain and operate the Park, with the Open Land Trust holding a conservation easement to ensure the Park’s perpetual protection. These entities will continue to work together, along with the Friends of Whitehall organization, to make the park an exceptional legacy for both residents and visitors to the area.
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For more information,
Contact: Cindy Baysden, Beaufort County Open Land Trust, (843) 521-2175