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Commissioners endorse maintaining Broadmoor Links for golf

The Broadmoor Links clubhouse contains an event center that hosts weddings, meetings and other gatherings. The Broadmoor Links clubhouse contains an event center that hosts weddings, meetings and other gatherings.

Although the Asheville Regional Airport Authority has negotiated an agreement to purchase Broadmoor Golf Links, golfers who love the course aren't shelving their clubs without a fight.

After hearing from the golfers, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday endorsed the continued use of the golf course for golf and not some other kind of development. Commissioners acted after golfers describe the course, which opened in 1991, as the "best public golf course in all of Western North Carolina," a contributor to the tourism economy and the main course in the area that high school and college golfers and young beginners use.

A member of the ORBs — Old Retired Buddies — Walter "Wally" Lee implored commissioners to ensure that the course and event center remain open if the airport does buy it. The ORBs have 114 members and "usually 25 to 40 plus show up for golf" twice a week, Lee said. They like Broadmoor because "they provide us tee times in a way other courses do not. We are only one of many groups that use Broadmoor that will struggle to find a new course. ... Broadmoor supports charities, business, tourism, environment and fun."

Fletcher Mayor pro tem Bob Davies also urged commissioners to save the course.

"I'm here to encourage you to protect one of the true gems in our area, namely the Broadmoor golf course," he said. Davies and Lee said many high school and youth programs use the course and its putting green and driving range  for practice, matches and tournaments.

"There is no other golf course in the area that can meet the needs of this type of school stuff," Davies said. "If the airport authority buys the golf course, the value would drop off of the Fletcher tax rolls as they would the Henderson County tax rolls." she has turned the court into the best public golf course in all of Western North Carolina. Although its parent company has filed for bankruptcy, Broadmoor Links is profitable, he said, and contributes to the economy, charity and recreation assets in the area, the golfers said.

Lew Bleiweis, the airport's executive director, said the airport authority OK'd the purchase on Friday for $2.75 million and a bankruptcy court judge approved the sale, pending the buyer's due diligence. Closing is tentatively set for the end of July, he said. The property covers 193 acres, about 140 of it in the floodway or floodplain along the French Broad River.

"The Broadmoor golf course (and Warrior) has been in bankruptcy for quite some time now," he said. "They approached us several months ago and asked us if we'd be interested in purchasing the golf course. ... We still have several weeks or more to go before we make that final decision whether we'll be purchasing or not."

The airport authority hasn't decided what to do with the land and the course and event center.

"One of them is keeping it a viable golf course and it is a viable golf course," he said. "We've had several golf course companies approach us that would like to manage it." Airport officials have talked with Conserving Carolina about preserving land in the flood plain. "The main purpose for us to buy it is to control the adjacent property and to protect the airport and the encroachment of other developments that are occurring."

The airport authority under state law had to notify the Board of Commissioners of the prospective sale because the purchase by the nonprofit authority would take the land off the tax rolls.

In addition to the public comments in person, commissioners received "50 or more emails from parties interested in the golf course situation," Commissioner Bill Lapsley said.

"I certainly understand why the airport authority has a keen interest in the property and I think there's a sense that this board does not want to deter or stop that purchase but we do have an interest in what the future holds and I think the three of us we'd like to see the golf course continue and I'd like to see us in the next two weeks come up with some language (to ensure) for the foreseeable future it's going to continue and that this board would have some say in that."

Commissioners "are very interested in seeing the golf course continue and they recognize it as a community asset," County Manager Steve Wyatt said. "There are  a lot of options open as far as keeping the golf course as a golf course."

A private management company and even the county Parks and Recreation Department running it are among the options, he said.

"The important thing for you to know is the county commissioners support this golf course," Wyatt told Bleiweis. "There aren't that many golf courses in Western North Carolina that's affordable and you're able to just go play.  The commissioners are going to do everything they can to ensure that it remains a golf course, a commnity asset, in partnership with the airport authority. We can begin that as soon as this afternoon if that's what we need to do."

The board directed staff to draft an agreement with the airport authority on how Broadmoor could continue to operate as a golf course if the sale goes through.