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This way to the egress, park advisers say

The Flat Rock Village Council is considering buying Highland Lake Golf Club and making it a town park. The Flat Rock Village Council is considering buying Highland Lake Golf Club and making it a town park.

FLAT ROCK — An advisory group exploring options for a proposed Highland Lake Park wants a new entrance that would divert traffic from the current entrance to the golf course.

The committee also edged closer to deciding on amenities at the park — walking trails, a playground, open space, a gazebo, picnic shelters, a pavilion and a gathering place around a central feature like a fountain.
The new road into park would be off Highland Lake Road several hundred yards west of the current entrance into the golf course, which also leads to the Highland Golf Villas development.
The Highland Lake Park Exploratory Committee is serving in an advisory role only, its members emphasize, its recommendations may or may not come to pass. The committee has yet to attach cost estimates to a menu of options; it is expected to begin doing that at a meeting next week.
The committee's role is to say "here's what we think needs to be in the park," committee chair Ginger Brown said. "The village can decide what's in it and in what order. They're the people that are in charge."
The Village Council appointed the advisory committee and directed it to explore whether the townspeople favor or oppose a park, to come up with ideas for how one should be developed, to estimate capital and operating costs and to identify grants and other funding options. The Highland Lake Golf Club is still open but the owners have had the property on the market for more than a year, for about $1.1 million. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners proposed buying the land for soccer fields but backed off the plans amid a storm of protest from neighboring property owners.
A plan drawn by two committee members, landscape architect Ed Lastein and retired architect Doug Johnson, showed a gazebo, a pavilion, a picnic area and a fountain in the upland part of the 67-acre property, a paved trail around the upper part and a longer soft trail, about a mile and a quarter, winding around the parkland.
Flat Rock residents said during a forum last month and in an online survey that they want a park, Brown said, although she cautioned that the survey was not scientific. The committee also has heard concerns about traffic, the potential for crime and the cost to taxpayers.
"But we really feel the public is in favor of the park and we have clear direction about what people want," she said.
Johnson, whose home in the Highland Golf Villas adjoins the golf course property, said the park needs an entrance other than the one just west of the railroad tracks in a curve.
"It's really going to be important to move this entrance," he said, "because it's truly a death trap there."


Committee member and former mayor Terry Hicks presented a proposed park trust fund that he said could raise $300,000 in three years and $600,000 over eight years to support park development.

The committee also agreed, with the Village Council's consent, to direct Rebekah Robinson, administrative director of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, to move forward with a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant application. The grant applications are due Jan. 31.