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Speak now, if you harbor strong feelings about minigolf course

If you have a strong attachment to features of the Laura E. Corn Minigolf Course at Boyd Park, the time has arrived to make them known.

The city is inviting residents to share their ideas on the beloved course as it works on the design of a relocated attraction to Edwards Point, also at Five Points.

A contractor the city hired that specializes in minigolf design has sketched out a preliminary layout that shows 11 of the 18 holes handicap accessible and shows water holes and loop-de-loop holes, City Manager John Connet said. People can see the drawing during a drop-in input opportunity next Monday at the City Operations Center
“Really the reason we’re having this meeting is to get input from the public about what the theme should be for the various holes, what do they remember from their childhood, what's important to them,” he said. “We'll have pictures of the existing Laura E. Corn course” that people can react to. “I'll give you an example. One of the holes in the existing course shows the Nantahala River. Is Nantahala River really important or in the new course should that be the French Broad or the Davidson River or Mud Creek, Oklawaha? How important is it that the holes are exactly like the current course?
“There's a themed hole for Cherokee,” he said. “Does that continue to be important? There's a hole with the black bear. We know that's important, Carl Sandburg, things like those in the community. We really just want to get the feedback from the community and folks that have played on the courses. How can we blend the old with the new? And I think that's what the Historic Preservation Commission was asking us to do. … There may be things that are more important today than they were when the course was originally constructed.”
Laura Corn, the beloved manager of the course who gave out putters and balls and sold concessions, kept track of things people said about the course and their experience. The City Council has already voted to move the course across Main Street to make way for a new Fire Station 1.
“This is about how do we incorporate old minigolf into the new minigolf,” he said. “This is not a public input meeting to say we're going to keep the minigolf at its current location. This is about addressing the theme of the various holes and make it as nice as we can. We think we've got a pretty good design as it relates to just the basic layout, but there's still opportunity for tweaking and adding things that make the character truly Hendersonville and Henderson County.”
It’s not clear whether any of the current features can be moved to the new course. Connet said engineers will assess the condition to see whether they can be moved “and if we can move them we will move them.”
“There’s an old waterfall and the waterfall hasn’t worked in a number of years,” he said. “You just don't know what the condition of it is. We may have to detach it and repair it and put it back.”
The city’s effort to gather as much public input as possible is driven in part by the Historic Preservation Commission, which has heard from “Save Boyd Park” campaign organizers who wanted the attraction to remain where it is.
“They want us to look at preserving as many of the elements as possible and to receive public input about what’s important,” he said. “That's why we're having this meeting. Secondly, they want us to commemorate Boyd Park on that site somewhere and we'll be talking about that at the public meeting. And one of the things we’re proposing is, on the northern end of that triangle where the fire station is there’s a park-like area with the big pine trees and everything” that the city could turn into a passive green space with a historical plaque commemorating Boyd Park.

The plan now is to continue the minigolf for the summer season and to have the new course ready for play by the traditional Memorial Day weekend opening in 2023.

Before it can start construction, the city has to complete a swap of the School Board-owned Edwards Park land for city-owned Berkeley Park property. The potential for a $185 million manufacturing plant on 21 acres of the Berkeley Park property “changed the dynamic of our negotiation” with the School Board, Connet said. “If the industry chooses Hendersonville and Henderson County then that acreage will go to the industry and there will only be about three acres for the school system. So we're continuing to negotiate how that property swap will happen.”

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Residents are invited to stop by the City Operations Center, 305 Williams St., from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, May 16, to see the course design and provide feedback.