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Riley suggests 2nd memorial in proposed county park

The Post and Courier
Friday, June 29, 2007

One day after announcing plans to buy the Sofa Super Store site where nine Charleston firefighters perished and create a memorial there, Mayor Joe Riley suggested that a proposed county park he's been advocating could be an additional memorial site.

"I think there is a splendid opportunity for a more complete memorial to these men in that park," said Riley, referring to more than 1,500 acres of land that developers of the proposed Long Savannah subdivision have offered to sell to the county for $8 million.

"It could be where every firefighter in the region goes for their picnic," Riley said.

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission has been divided on using greenbelt funds to buy the land in far West Ashley, much of which is wetlands. PRC commissioners recently put a $4 million offer on the table, and began negotiations.

The idea of using the park to memorialize firefighters could give support to those who favor the land deal, but County Council Chairman Tim Scott said the issues should be kept separate.

"I don't want the integrity of the loss of life to get mixed in with the controversy of a land deal," Scott said Thursday.

"I wholeheartedly support the efforts to memorialize the firefighters, and I think the purchase of the Sofa Super Store site is a grand idea and I'm glad the city of Charleston is taking the lead," he said.

"As far as the controversial Long Savannah project, I think the project will have to stand on its own merit, and how we incorporate honoring the firefighters at a park or another location outside the Sofa Super Store site should be decided after emotions are allowed to simmer a little bit," Scott said.

Riley said the 2.5-acre Sofa Super Store site on Savannah Highway is a small property in a high-traffic area. A natural area with marsh views and access to Rantowles Creek would offer more opportunities for quiet contemplation, he said. "I think, for the families and everyone, now in this time of tragedy, it's important to paint an ambitious picture for a memorial," Riley said.

Charleston is working on its own land deal with the Long Savannah developers, which calls for buying 232 acres of land at the top of Bear Swamp Road for $2.8 million, for a new city park, which would be adjacent to the larger county park.

Riley said the city park would not make a good memorial site because plans call for baseball fields and other active recreation.

The proposed county land purchase is an integral part of the subdivision plan, which calls for building about 1,500 homes. The plan would require moving the "urban growth boundary" that's supposed to define the end of suburban growth in Charleston County.

Charleston and the developers have plans for the subdivision to be annexed into the city, if the development moves forward.

Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission Chairman Kevin Hollinshead said Riley told him about the idea of using the land as a memorial Wednesday. "I think it's something worth looking into," he said. "I have a lot of questions and reservations, and there are a lot of issues that would need to be worked out."

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or

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This article has  8 comment(s)

Posted by wucherer on June 29, 2007 at 2:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Another memorial, that is how life is being measured these days. Tragic end to those fallen firefighters measured up by thinking up some business. We have too many memorials in the united states, memorials after the flag waving and salutes have passed will be just another reflection on how shallow people have become. When 9/11/01 happen, for the longest time we were gripped in fear that terrorist landed on our free shore but our fears were later calmed by our country reaction. Now the world trade centre site is nothing more than a memory by most americans and has been claimed by politics, money and greed. Terrible the situation where 9 firefighters were killed, there to save lives and in return their lives were snuffed out. Our officals at every turn want to put up a piece of marble or create a slab of concrete for the dead...while it is a nice thought but most of the intention has an underlying motive. When our very own united states was attacked by hurricane katrina some help trickled down there but they aren't erecting statues, they are rebuilding! How about that nice money being donated elsewhere? These marble and concrete memories are a nice respect for the dead but then let us relize that some offical will have their name etched into it too or can we truely have a momument created by honest intentions and only have etched who is was really meant to be respected for? Then after all the fanfare has died, someones gonna need to keep up this memorial? More hard earned tax dollars wasted for the enternity of the life of this memorial that can be best used elsewhere.

Posted by majorjohnson on June 29, 2007 at 7:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This isn't about the firefighters...Joe's using this tragedy to sell his park. He's got no shame whatsoever.

Posted by trm2105 on June 29, 2007 at 7:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree. I was thinking that there's too much memorializing for political gain. Yes, it was a terrible event, but the energy put into this kind of response could be channeled better.

I for one believe those brave men's lives would be better memorialized by correcting the issues that cost them their lives. The owners of the store weren't in compliance with the fire safety code and it wasn't enforced. That is were this horrible event actually started. Another memorial won't prevent another death, but addressing and enforcing fire safety issues will. Riley is simply pandering to emotions with the talk of more memorials. What does Long Savannah have to do with this tragedy anyway?

Posted by chas1 on June 29, 2007 at 8:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If Riley's heart was truly in the right place, he would suggest a renovation and memorial at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth, in the old courtyard on the corner at the Central Fire Station. That corner has become an eyesore of broken concrete and rust. I can't think of a more visible location, especially right next to the fire station. In any case, that corner should receive attention soon. It's sad the City has let it deteriorate so much.

Posted by Mythoughts on June 29, 2007 at 8:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes! I would like to see the money used to pay for inspections, instead of his swamp(park). The last inspection was 1998, WOW

15 code inforcement inspectors seams low for the size of a city like Charleston, and all of the new consturction going on, how could they keep up.

Posted by JonWithnal on June 29, 2007 at 1:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, multiple memorials all over the state and country are the answer. Why stop at two?

Posted by turnwillkat on June 29, 2007 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Enough with the memorials and parks....put Charleston on the map by having the most prepared fire fighters in the nation! Use those funds to purchase the most updated equipment for our dedicated men and women!

Posted by afriend on June 29, 2007 at 4:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I totally agree with turnwillkat. Lets get theses heroes the best equitment possible. Hoses that are actually the right size to fight this type of fire. How about a burn unit in Charleston so, god forbid they need it, it is here to take care of them. A memorial is nice because we have lost 9 wonderful men, but lets put our efforts into preventing the need for memorials in the future.

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