Connecting Cainhoy: Pathway joining communities to Cainhoy Plantation in works

For some residents who reside in communities surrounding the southern part of the developing Cainhoy Plantation, home to the new Philip Simmons Schools, the lack of connectivity between entities is a concern. With a Publix, office spaces and a number of other retail sites planned for “Cainhoy South,” and with Clements Ferry Road currently being the only way for residents to access the area, it is sure to attract a lot of traffic once completed. For resident Ruffin Bailey and his family, who live directly outside of Nelliefield Plantation and can hear when the nearby Philip Simmons High School has sporting events, being able to access these amenities quickly and safely is important. “It’s good to be able to access the things that are going in,” said Bailey. “…They have phase one for what they’re putting into Cainhoy South. It’d be nice to be able to get there. My wife teaches high school at PSHS and it’d be nice for her to be able to get there without having to go on Clements Ferry. We’re spitting distance. We can hear the football games, but we can’t get there without hopping on a major highway. That’s the big concern.” While little movement has been made by the City of Charleston or Berkeley County regarding this issue, according to Lisa Kerns, president of the HOA for Nelliefield Plantation, a neighborhood that is located adjacent to Cainhoy South, something needs to be done to address the connectivity issue. Others in the surrounding mixed-use Point Hope community and administrators from the Berkeley County School District agree. “The Nelliefield HOA Board recently met with the stakeholders of Point Hope community and with the Berkeley County School District,” said Kerns. “From this meeting all parties have come to an understanding of the desire to connect…How to go about that is the question.” The DI Development Company, the entity managing development of Cainhoy Plantation, has also been part of the connectivity discussion. “We have been in discussions with them and hope to be able to provide a connection,” said Matt Sloan, president of the DI Development Company. “Nelliefield is separated from Cainhoy Plantation by a large wetland system. There is no easy way to get from there to Cainhoy. We are hopeful we can find a solution.” While the connection points for the project are conceptual, all parties involved concur that a trail interconnecting the three entities would be the best route to pursue, continued Kerns. Though the project will be one cohesive effort, each entity will provide funding for construction on their property and have their own developer. For Nelliefield, she added, the developer is Redan Commercial Builders. From the Nelliefield side, the HOA has received permission from their homeowners to borrow the money needed in order to complete a playground path and pavilion on their property, according to Kerns. Their part of the project will cost $810,000. “We, when we sold this to our community, it was packaged as it would be a park, playground and pathway and the pathway would be for pedestrians, bicycles and golf carts and from our side, that’s what we’re building,” said Kerns. According to Kerns, while the plans are currently only proposed, the best place for connection from their side into Cainhoy Plantation is by the entrance of PSHS. “For liability reasons, the school does not want us to connect, obviously, through the baseball or football fields,” said Kerns. “We would have to come up higher onto the property at the school, which would put our path connection right there at the gate of the high school.” For Dr. Jim Spencer, principal of PSHS, the project is an excellent way to provide a safer alternative for students to travel to and from school. “This opportunity to have a trail between one of our surrounding neighborhoods and the physical campus itself, I believe is great for the kids,” said Spencer. “It produces a safer way to get to school and home from school. It keeps people off of Clements Ferry Road…We’ve got plenty of bike racks on campus, if people want to even ride bikes to athletic and co-curricular activities, they’d have the ability to do that.” During the planning and permitting stages of the project, some unforeseen problems have occurred, added Kerns. Because of this, construction has not been able to begin. “A lot of the issues have to do with the wetlands…The parties are currently working through each of those [issues] individually,” said Kerns. “We are very excited to get this project off the ground. Hopefully the area for connectivity will dry out and machinery will be able to get into the designated area and we can move forward with the project. We will just have to see.” Currently, Kerns continued, the parties are waiting for the legal paperwork between legal departments to be completed. Once finalized, the project will be moving forward quickly. “I’m hoping to have the project completed before the 2018-2019 school year,” said Kerns. “However, we are at the mercy of the construction at that point. The rain and weather will dictate how quickly we can get in there, especially with the wetlands.” Because the project, at least from the Nelliefield side, is being privately funded by homeowners in the community, some worry that they will be unable to access the trail. According to Kerns, the stakeholders within the project are open to surrounding communities utilizing the pathway, as long as regulations are put in place. “Our desire is to have a way for the kids to ride their bikes to school, but what we do not want is the additional traffic on our roads of parents bringing kids from other communities to ride their bikes to the schools,” said Kerns. “If we could find a way for other communities to utilize the pathway without creating traffic issues for our residents, then we are open to doing that. However, that’s really going to depend on how people utilize the path…We are open to having the other communities use our pathway, as long as steps are put into place to cover the cost associated with upkeep, the security costs and the traffic issues.” 

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