News 12 at 11, June 30, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.--An Augusta landmark is now closed to the public for good. The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame's Botanical Gardens shut its gates for the last time.
A move made after failing to receive the money and support it needed to stay open. The decision to shut the gates to the public was a decision everyone hoped to avoid, but it was not to be.
The gates finally shut Saturday night (June 30) at 9'o'clock.
For months the gardens sat idle, not getting the green needed to stay alive.
It's unfortunate, says Augustan Mary Breckenridge. "Five and a half years ago family was visiting from Gainesville, Florida and we decided this would be a nice place to spend the afternoon."
But Mary, like so many others, never came back.
The attraction failed to hit a grand slam and poor attendance became one of the biggest thorns in its side.
But Mary wanted to come Saturday and see it one last time. "I think it's too bad because it's a beautiful beautiful place."
The gardens' last day is one James Brooks says he will always remember. He and his wife exchanged vows there on Saturday. The Brooks' are the last couple to be married in the botanical gardens.
"We're the last group to finalize and put a star on the Georgia golf hall of fame." exclaims Brooks.
But the future may still be colorful here. The sixteen acre property is being eyed by Augusta Greenjackets owners Cal and Bill Ripken as well as Mayor Copenhaver, who want to build a stadium here.
No matter what happens to the site in the future, the idea of loosing the eight acres of gardens is painful even for first and last time visitors like Royann Newbold. " What a shame. What a shame. Aw..it's just beautiful. I could be here all day. We took a lot of pictures and it will be a fond memory of Augusta."
The Golf Hall of Fame is not closing. It will continue to run it's operations from the site. The grounds crew will maintain the property thru July. By October, the staff will be cut to two people. The statues will stay at the site, and security will continue to operate.
Golf Hall of Fame Board Chairman Bryan Persons says the board is also considering reopening the putting course Friday through Sunday to the public if funds allow.
Persons says the Hall of Fame is in negotiations the Georgia Department of Economic Development to help with operating costs through the end of the year, but no final decisions just yet.