Hendersonville City Council is confident, with only a few concerns and suggestions expressed, to move forward with exchanging part of Berkeley Mills Park to Henderson County Public Schools in exchange for Edwards Park.
City manager John Connet presented a concept plan to council at a meeting Wednesday that shows HCPS plans for its future part of Berkeley Park, which would be nearly 26 acres, if the trade is approved.
The board and the school board must approve the trade.
HCPS wants to renovate the baseball field already in Berkeley Park and add a softball field and six tennis courts as an extension of the Hendersonville High campus.
The city’s master plan includes a playground and a memorial tree park in the 33.5-acre portion of the park that the city will retain, as well as a greenway and walking track around the park, said Connet.
“In doing this business, we are de facto committing to creating a park there at some point, because we are keeping that land to set up a kind of park,” said Pro Mayor Tempore Jerry Smith.
In return, the city will own Edwards Park, minus a lane leading to Bruce Drysdale Elementary School, which HCPS will retain ownership of.
The park would be the new home of the Boyd Park mini-golf course, and the tennis courts in Berkeley Park would replace those in Boyd Park, Connet said. The city was looking for a place to move this equipment in order to build a new station for the fire department.
Smith and city councilor Jeff Miller have asked Connet to submit a letter of intent for the business to council. Connet will have the letter at the February 4 meeting with the aim of signing a final agreement within a month so that the properties can be traded at that time, he said.
The school board is expected to discuss the trade at its meeting on February 8.
“The idea is just to move that ball forward and show the school board that the board is okay with where we are today,” Connet said.
One of the terms of the HCPS exchange with Henderson County is that no county funding is provided for the Berkeley Park project in the first five years, which means the money will come mostly from donations. and private funding. City funding can still be provided, if needed.
Smith told council to keep in mind that not having committed upfront funding for the Berkeley Park project could mean the Boyd Park tennis courts will not be replaced in a timely manner.
City Councilor Jennifer Hensley said she was concerned the park could go unused and underdeveloped for an unknown period.
A possible interim solution while plans are being made and during construction would be for the city to fund the relocation of the two tennis courts from Boyd Park to Patton Park, where there are already two, said Connet. This would lead to a total of 10 tennis courts for public use.
City Councilor Jeff Miller said he liked the idea. None of the board members opposed the suggestion.
Hensley suggested finding a way to cover the tennis courts to double as pickleball courts, as the sport is popular in Hendersonville, she said. In a meeting earlier this month, school board president Blair Craven suggested a future aquatic center at Berkeley Park.
There is no timeline yet for the start of construction once the park has been traded.