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Flat Rock tiptoes into park discussion

Some residents want the Flat Rock Village Council to buy the Highland Lake Golf Course. Council members reacted cautiously. Some residents want the Flat Rock Village Council to buy the Highland Lake Golf Course. Council members reacted cautiously.

FLAT ROCK — The Flat Rock Village Council is looking at a possible town park.


Mayor Robert Staton and Councilman Jimmy Chandler met with engineer Bill Lapsley for preliminary talks about what a park could look like and what amenities it could have. The council authorized up to $1,500 for the engineer to give a rough idea of the park options.

“We are exploring the possibility of a park in Flat Rock and looking at what amenities we might offer,” Staton said Tuesday. “There was an effort about a year ago to establish a children’s playground.” Then the town surveyed residents on priorities. A playground ranked down toward the bottom. “When the results of the survey were ‘we don’t want it’ we didn’t pursue it,” the mayor said.

Staton and Chandler met with Lapsley and another engineer from his firm. The engineers gave the village an estimate of $2,500 to $5,000 to examine the idea in more detail. As of now, town leaders do not have a piece of property in mind, although some residents have urged them to consider buying the Highland Lake Golf Course. The prospective sale of the course to the county for soccer fields collapsed when residents turned out and protested at Board of Commissioners and Village Council meetings.

Asked if the council was currently talking to golf course owner Jim Sparks about buying the land, Staton said, “No, we’re not.” He added, “I know they want to sell that property.”

Tom Davis, vice president of Course Doctors and Highland Lake Golf Course, responded in an email to an inquiry from the Lightning.

“Prior to your message, we had not heard anything about Flat Rock having a potential interest in a park,” he said. “As far as the golf course, (owner) Jim Sparks and I are operating the business and trying to survive a very difficult economy.”

Residents of Staton Woods and the Highland Lake Golf Villas came out strongly when Henderson County announced it had made a deal to buy the golf course and develop it for soccer fields. The uprising was so strong that commissioners abandoned the sale.

“After the debacle on the golf course,” said Village Councilman Nick Weedman, “we have been approached by a number of people who were opposed to putting in soccer fields and said why don’t we buy or procure that tract of land where Highland Lake golf course is. I don’t perceive there’s a heck of a lot of support for it. … I would say there’s some lightly active discussion on it.”

Chandler said he is wary of the long-term costs.

“I would be in favor of an area for a park but I would not be in favor of Flat Rock getting in the business of managing a park,” he said. “It all boils down to what the ongoing operating cost would be.”

Councilman Dave Bucher also said talks are very preliminary.

Council would want to know “what it would cost to maintain and that sort of thing,” he said.