WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When Echo Farms closed its golf course in 2017, residents were outraged.
While some filed a lawsuit to keep the course, New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple says others brought their concerns to the City Council and County Commissioners.
“Oh, yes, it was very controversial when the property was sold and there were,” says Zapple, “several different ideas about how we could save or if the developers would take the entire thing.”
After weeks of discussion, Mayor Bill Saffo says the county and city banded together to buy and save part of the area for a public park and green space:
“Some places are private clubhouses and private settings that you can’t go to unless you’re a resident there. But to have this as a public space, a public open space is great.”
Working with Tara Duckworth, the New Hanover County Parks and Gardens Director, they opened five clay tennis courts, refurbished the pool, and carved out a three quarter mile walking trail that will one day connect to Halyburton Park and nearby neighborhoods.
“We’re really trying to work on complete communities in New Hanover County,” Duckworth says, “and this kind of speaks to it. Folks in the area have services that they can just walk to as opposed to having to get into the car and drive.”
“It’s been great to get out and ride your bike around the neighborhood, and do all sorts of fun things. We’ve had tons of activity out here,” nearby residents state. “We’re even gonna get the mayor to play some tennis.”
Once a construction zone, Duckworth says it’s now an area to be proud of: “We hope that if we build, they will come! And we’re starting to see that, so we’re excited.”