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Council OKs first phase of Park at Flat Rock

FLAT ROCK — A new entrance from Highland Lake Road, restrooms and a sheltered picnic pavilion are among the first improvements residents will see at the new Park at Flat Rock.

The Flat Rock Village Council bought the Highland Lake Golf Course for $1.15 million and has allocated $832,000 in the current budget year for park development. The village is scheduled to take possession of the property on Nov. 15. Some people are eager to start walking on the property.
"The day after the golf course closed on Sept. 30 we had a call from Course Doctors (the owners) saying that there are people out here walking on this course and we're closed," Mayor Bob Staton said.
During a special meeting on Nov. 1, the Village Council adopted the master plan for the park. The long-range plan includes a new parking lot, playgrounds for toddlers, elementary school kids and teen-agers, walking trails, reforestation, boardwalks in the wetlands and an interpretative center. The village plans to remove the old cart shed and the small Course Doctors office. It will keep the clubhouse but has no immediate plans to make it available for the public. It could be an office for the Flat Rock Park and Recreation Foundation, which the village formed to raise money for park improvements.
Development of the whole master plan could take 15 to 20 years, Staton said. The park will be open dawn to dusk only and the village has no plans to add ball fields on the site.
"We want to move as quickly as possible to make the property available to the public for walking, jogging, running, and we see that possibility by mid-December," Mayor Staton said. Pet Source on Spartanburg Highway has already agreed to donate a "doggie poop station" with plastic bags and a disposal container. Dog walking is expected but a fenced dog park is not in the master plan.
When the village opens the park, walkers will be able to use the cart path as a walking trail. Staton estimated the trail is about a mile and a half.
Construction of the new entrance and driveway, the handicapped accessible restrooms and the sheltered pavilion would take six to nine months and could extend into the next budget year, he said.
"The (cost) estimates by the park exploratory committee were all high and we understand that. That was done on purpose because there are always cost overruns," he said. "We want people to know we will have this master plan available (at Village Hall) for anyone to come look at it."
The new entrance is in a straight stretch of Highland Lake Road that provides 600 feet of visibility either way, the mayor said, and has already been evaluated by DOT engineers. The driveway does not traverse wetlands.
The council looked at sketches by architect Wayland Shamburger of a picnic shelter, an interpretive center and the clubhouse with changes to the façade. It gave the green light for the restroom picnic pavilion project with a 30-by-64-foot shelter.
"I think we have made progress and we're excited," Staton said.