Mini-golf course won't make the cut for new Coligny Park

Site layout rendering. Pope Avenue is to the right. Existing Coligny Beach parking and South Forest Beach Drive are to the south.
Site layout rendering. Pope Avenue is to the right. Existing Coligny Beach parking and South Forest Beach Drive are to the south. Wood Partners Inc

The Legendary Golf mini-golf course on Pope Avenue will not make the cut for Hilton Head's new Coligny Park, despite last-ditch efforts by owners Ed and Lorraine Berry to save the business.

The Berrys and almost 20 supporters flooded Hilton Head Island Town Council chambers on Tuesday night to ask town leaders to revise their park plans and save what they say has been a south-end icon for 25 years.

But Mayor David Bennett dismissed the idea outright, emphasizing that the town owns the land, that plans have long called for the course to move and that any changes now would jeopardize the already approved park.

"I'm sensing that there is a level of misunderstanding that a decision of council is somehow pending on whether or not the Legendary Golf facility remains," Bennett said ahead of the supporters' comments.

"The real decision as to the future of the Legendary Golf facility was indeed made in 2001, when the operator of the facility decided to sell the parcel to the town for its stated purposes, which were and remain for public uses, notably the park."

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No changes will be made in the Coligny Park plans to include the mini-golf course and the Berrys, who own the course near the Fresh Market Shoppes on William Hilton Parkway, must close the location on Dec. 31, Bennett and town manager Steve Riley said.

The town has owned the 2.75-acre property for nearly 15 years, when it bought the land from Ed Berry for $1.75 million to eventually build a park at the spot, Riley and tax records indicate.

While the town crafted plans, it agreed to lease the property to Berry and Legendary Golf until a park would finally be built, Riley said.

The first, two-year lease was for only $1 per year and subsequent year-long extensions bumped the price up to $1,500 to $2,000 per month, depending on the year, according to town documents. Berry has since leased the property on short-term, month-to-month agreements for $1,600 per month since 2007.

During all those years, the town's Coligny redevelopment efforts came in fits and starts, and it wasn't until last year's Planning Commission's recommendation -- led by Bennett -- that the town finally approved park plans.

"I realize it's been 14 years, and that's ridiculous in and of itself. But be that as it may, the town has been going about assembling the necessary pieces to the redevelopment," Bennett said.

"Hundreds participated and interjected what they'd like to see in this area, and I was very impressed with the results," he continued. "Coligny had been a divisive issue for a very long time in our community. ... We achieved widespread support and consensus on what we'd like to see in that area."

The Berrys feel they were left out of that process, however, and hoped town leaders might consider helping them hang on to their coveted location in the bustling tourist district, they said. Ed Berry also has offered to invest up to $100,000 to refurbish the course to become a portion of the park.

Nearly 20 supporters spoke out in favor of keeping the course as a much-needed family friendly activity for the island.

Town leaders are not entertaining the idea, but the Berrys will continue to push for at least a lease extension, Lorraine Berry said. Construction is not slated to begin at the new Coligny Park until September.

"I don't know if I could build another course today with the costs involved or whether there is a new place to build," Ed Berry said. "Location is critical."

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