New mini golf course dedicated

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2012

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — At Dan Nicholas Park’s newly rebuilt golf course, Lindsay Broadway slowly approached the green with his walker and hit the first putt Thursday morning.
Less than a year ago, it was nearly impossible for him to get around the two-part course, along with many others with walkers or wheelchairs.
Last fall, the county parks department demolished the course, which is about four decades old. It then raised about $225,000 in private donations to build a new, more accessible one. Visitors have been able to play on the course since its March 31 “soft opening,” but Thursday was the official grand opening and dedication ceremony.
“We’re very fortunate that we can provide a facility that is accessible to those in need at the park,” said Rowan County Parks Director Don Bringle.
Dennis Rogers, chairman of the Rowan County Parks Commission, said he’s thankful for all of the donors, sponsors and park staff involved in the project. He said visitors are excited about the new, modern course.
“In about five weeks now, there have been more than 5,400 players on this course,” Dennis Rogers said. “That’s amazing.”
Therapeutic Supervisor Renita Richie also thanked everyone who made the redesigned course possible.
“This new golf course is the answer to my prayers for the last 27 years,” she said. “That’s how long I’ve been fighting the old course.”
Broadway made the first putt after the grand opening. He is a member of the personal, social and community skills class at Rowan Vocational Opportunities, which provides life skills and employment training for people with disabilities. The group came to Dan Nicholas Park for recreation time Friday.
As Ritchie accompanied the members around the course, she said she used to have to hold up one side of Broadway’s walker to let him get to the next hole.“The sidewalks between the holes were 18 inches wide,” she said. “On the old course, if you had a walker, wheelchair, stroller or anything else, it was basically inaccessible.” Now, Broadway can move independently around the course’s wider sidewalks and roomy greens. Workers completely rebuilt the two side-by-side courses and covered them in springy artificial grass, along with thick carpet to simulate sand traps and rough.
Bringle said parks officials have tried to improve or rebuild the miniature golf course for many years. The current effort started in 2010, when a change in federal law threatened to shut it down.
The course was created in the 1970s, before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 set accessibility requirements, so it had been “grandfathered” into compliance.
But President Barack Obama announced revisions to the requirements in July 2010, and all miniature golf courses had to meet them by March of this year. At least 50 percent of all holes on a course must be accessible and form a consecutive route that enters and exits at the same spot.
“We could replace it or make a parking lot out of it,” Bringle said. “We’re thankful to our Rowan County Commissioners for allowing us to go out and raise the funds that were necessary to rebuild the course.”
The county did not provide public funds for the project, but it approved the effort.
“The old saying is to do the right thing in the correct way,” said Commissioner Raymond Coltrain. “Well, I think the accomplishment of these courses is the perfect example of that.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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