Charleston Parks Conservancy Kicks Off Public Fundraising for Colonial Lake Renovation

The Charleston Parks Conservancy is launching the public fundraising campaign for the $5 million renovation of Colonial Lake. The Conservancy will kick off the campaign at the fourth annual Party for the Parks – Amusement on the Avenue Saturday night at Colonial Lake.

The renovation is an unprecedented partnership among the Parks Conservancy, the City of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation.

“We are already 80 percent of the way to achieving our fundraising goal,” said Darla Moore, founder of the Conservancy, “thanks to the City of Charleston, which has committed $4 million to the project.”

The Conservancy is tasked with raising from private sources the remaining $1 million to cover construction costs, plus an additional $200,000 for ongoing park maintenance. Individuals, organizations and neighborhood associations are invited to join in this historic opportunity.

“This is a chance for citizens to invest in their community in a way that makes a lasting impact,” said Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy. “Colonial Lake was established in the 19th century with the idea that the park would be the equal to White Point Gardens. Now the community has a special opportunity to help us fulfill that vision in the 21st century.”

Dozens of contributions have already been received, including a gift from the Harleston Village Neighborhood Association. In thanking the association, Lesesne noted, “this gift from the neighborhood means so much because this is their park, and knowing they are behind the effort provides us great momentum.”

The $5 million project price tag includes design, engineering, repairs, new construction and extensive landscaping. When the renovation is complete, the Conservancy will maintain the park the same way it works in more than 20 other parks in the City of Charleston – with its staff of professional horticulturists and volunteer Park Angels. With its partners, the Conservancy has overseen other park renovations, including Allan Park, Logan Street Triangle Park and Corrine Jones Park.

“The Charleston Parks Conservancy’s public-private partnerships have paid dividends all over our city. Working with city government, neighborhood groups and citizens, the Conservancy has produced wonderful additions to Charleston’s neighborhoods,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. “The Colonial Lake project will transform one of our iconic parks into a jewel that will be recognized as one of the city’s finest.”

Construction documents and bidding on the project should be completed by May 2014. The construction phase is May 2014 to July 2015. The renovations will include:

• A new and improved flushing system so water within the Colonial Lake Basin will be more consistent with the water quality in the Ashley River. Controls within the flushing system will enable the water level to be maintained at most times to between 12 and 18 inches below the promenade level.

• Gardens designed and maintained with the highest level of horticultural art will be added to Colonial Lake.

• The promenade around Colonial Lake will be enhanced with new, improved and additional pathways, shade trees and appropriate lighting to assure safety and enjoyment at night.

• Seating and gathering places will be situated in each of the four corners of the park.

• Rutledge and Ashley avenues will be slightly narrowed to slow traffic and enhance pedestrian safety. All travel lanes and on-street parking lanes will be maintained. The resulting additional park space will be used for street trees, including an avenue of live oaks along Ashley Avenue.

• Historical markers and displays will detail the lake’s history.

“The Charleston Parks Conservancy is enhancing neighborhoods through the restoration and vast improvement of the city’s parks with the focus on their becoming thriving community-focused areas,” said Katharine S. Robinson, president and CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation. “Colonial Lake, located in the Old and Historic District, is a park renovation project that will help ensure this historic neighborhood’s viability and livability for generations, and we are very proud to be a partner in this exciting project.”

During the fall fundraising campaign, the Conservancy is also asking the community to share stories, photos, videos and memories of Colonial Lake. Those can be submitted via email to or via social media using the hashtag #coloniallake. Find the Conservancy on Facebook at, on Twitter and Instagram @charlestonparks.

Complete information about the Colonial Lake renovation including diagrams, sketches and project details can be found at



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