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Flags dress up new Gateway Park

Jeff Miller thought the new gateway to Hendersonville needed an American flag. Jeff Miller thought the new gateway to Hendersonville needed an American flag.

City officials and business leaders on Friday will cut the ribbon on the improvements to the 300-400 blocks of North Main Street and dedicate the city's new Gateway Park, which has a new patriotic spirit thanks to a local businessman.

Flag poles just went Tuesday in the triangle shaped postage-stamp park with landscaping and trees. They would not have happened had it not been for Jeff Miller, the Hendersonville dry cleaner and HonorAir founder who noticed what was absent.

Miller got in touch with the city and offered to pay for the pole for the American flag through HonorAir funds. The city paid to erect poles for a state flag and a city flag.

"I think it's a nice addition," said City Manager Bo Ferguson. "We went back to Luther Smth, the architect for the project, and asked him if you did flag poles, where would you put them, and he picked that location."

The three flag poles are set to the left as motorists are driving toward downtown from the south.

The Chamber of Commerce and city officials will also dedicate the completed work on two blocks of Main Street. Contractors have repaired failing pipes under the street and added landscaping, paving and striping.

Despite wisecracks around town about off-roading down Main Street and holding the upcoming "Mud Run" downtown, critiques that have reached City Hall have been "exceedingly positive," Ferguson said. "They really like the look of the midblock areas right around Black Bear and Dancing Bear. It's a park-like look with new trees and new furniture that's coming.... We've heard nothing but positive things, that doesn't mean that there might not be critics out there."

Ferguson said there was no question that the city's makeover of the block south of the Historic Courthouse was a catalyst for revival. "We might even see that in the block between Sixth and Seventh," the third phase of the downtown work, he said. "I can see some of those businesses attracting more pedestrian traffic and catering to that more."

While the impetus for the project was the need to replace failing infrastructure under the street, "on the surface it's really served an economic development purpose," he added.

Chamber leaders will also celebrate the reopening of Cypress Cellar, which has been closed over the winter during the street work. And at 5 pm Downtown Hendersonville Inc. will unveil the new bears for the season.