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Park swap in jeopardy after commissioners rescind earlier decision

A proposed park swap between the city of Hendersonville and the county School Board could be in jeopardy after action by Henderson County commissioners Monday night to rescind an earlier decision that cleared the way for the exchange.


At issue is the ownership of Edwards Park, which the city wanted to acquire in exchange for about half of the 60-acre Berkeley Park. Representatives from the city and the School Board had been negotiating details of the swap, which would potentially have resulted in a new softball field and tennis courts for use by Hendersonville High School athletics. City Council members and city administrators hoped to move the city-owned Laura E. Corn Mini Golf Course to Edwards Park so the city could use the Putt Putt space for a new Fire Station 1.

Those plans could be derailed, or take another shape, after commissioners reversed the vote they made in August to declare the Edwards Park property unneeded for county purposes. The commissioners’ action came during discussion of the possible purchase of Hedrick Rhodes VFW Post 5206.

The county's consulting architect reported that three phases of repair and renovation would cost $4.4 million.

After repairs that would include new doors, new windows and a new roof, phase 2 would “improve the building substantially,” Chad Robertson told commissioners. The first floor could include a military museum, VFW meeting space or offices space. A phase 3 would add new restrooms and a catering kitchen on the second floor. Plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems would be replaced, too.

If the improvements led to much greater use of the building by the public as expected, there would be insufficient parking, commissioners said.

Commissioner Michael Edney made the motion to rescind the Aug. 19 vote that declared Edwards Park surplus.

"I think the city and county, like we've done in other areas, can show that we can work together and come up with something beneficial," he said. "I think we have to do this to make that a possibility."

"A lot of the residents who will benefit from the use of that are city residents, who are also county residents, of course,” Commissioner Daniel Andreotta said. “And it doesn't matter who has that (VFW) building, the parking that comes with it does not suffice.”

Commissioner Rebecca McCall said: "We talked a lot about preserving that building for history purposes, following the theme of history for our county, Edwards Park holds three very historical buildings and they are the Boy Scout cabins. I think it all ties together."

Commissioners did not directly address how their vote to rescind the Aug. 19 action on the Edwards Park land would affect the park swap talks between the city and the School Board.

Besides a new softball field for the varsity Bearcat women and lighted tennis courts, the School Board envisioned improvements to the historic Berkeley Spinners stadium for HHS varsity baseball. The City Council wanted to set aside park acreage the city would retain for a destination playground and a memorial tree garden. The agreement that had been tentatively worked out by the city and School Board also would have allowed the city to build a walking trail around the perimeter of the parkland.