The river eases slowly by, barely disturbing the marsh grass flanking the banks. From here, the traffic noise of Summerville's busy Oakbrook area has ebbed.
Like any good local spot, Herbet H. Jessen Public Boat Landing has its regulars and remains unknown to most. For Mike Havens, this little strip of paradise offers him relaxation during his lunch hour.
"It's just the peace of it. Set out by the water. It's a good place to park the van and grab a little nap," Havens said.
Up river and across the river, there's the protected Colonial Dorchester State Park. Down river is the historic Middleton Place plantation. This is a place for putting in for a day on the water, catching crabs or fish with family and just spending time in the shade — all free of charge.
Not familiar with Jessen Boat Landing? Check out photo gallery attached to this story.
Less than a half mile away, vehicles jockey for position at the Ladson Road and Dorchester Road stoplight. A lines backs up through the McDonald's parking lot for those having a very different kind of lunch hour.
Summerville Councilman Bob Jackson, who represents the Oakbrook area of town, wants to see the refuge protected and has begun efforts to preserve and protect the land surrounding the town's property.
"It's outstanding out here," Jackson said. "This is a real gem for Oakbrook … You can stand here and it's like you left the city — you're out in the country."
The two parcels adjoining Jessen Boat Landing are privately owned, the one to the south has been zoned for multi-family residential, which could spell an end to the peaceful atmosphere off of Jessen's docks.
But Jackson refuses to sit idly by as another area of Oakbrook loses its Summerville charm for another apartment complex serving commuters. He aims to make this a destination. The property was zoned before Jackson took office.
"Everybody is like, 'What do we do now?'" Jackson said. Jackson presented a few of his ideas two weeks ago to the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce. "If we don't do something in Oakbrook, the better businesses will end up in North Charleston … This river has to be saved right now."
First on his list is the Ashley River Festival, scheduled for May 18, 2013. Next, he has been working on gathering business interests and developers along the corridor to Jessen Boat Landing.
He's dubbed his project "Save the Oakbrook Ashley."
Jackson envisions a fine dining restaurant, a bigger park, a fountain for children to play in and a nearby, walkable shopping center. But he wants all of that and to preserve the integrity of what already exists — not replace it or commercialize it, he said.
"I want it to see it become a destination where you can hang out, fish, eat and shop," Jackson said. "I wouldn't want to disturb this at all."
Over the next three to six months, Jackson said he will continue working with the neighboring landowners and business owners, nonprofits, conservation groups and government entities to develop an agreement that would preserve the riverfront, bring positive development nearby and draw community interest in the site.
Efforts to develop next year's festival are also underway. Jackson said the festival will be geared toward conservation and children's activities.
Those interested in the festival, which will primarily serve conservation groups and nonprofits, or the efforts for conserving the Oakbrook Ashley River can contact Jackson at 843-810-0449 or RJackson28@bellsouth.net.
What would you like to see in this area? Tell us in the comments!