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August 28. 2014 10:07PM

Former mini-golf course to transform into botanical gardens

The Salem Planning Board recently approved the site plan for a botanical garden at a former miniature golf course on North Broadway. (ADAM SWIFT/Union Leader Correspondent)

SALEM — Salem gets more than its share of retail stores and restaurants approved by the planning board along Route 28, but the latest plan approved for 350 North Broadway should bring more than a touch of nature to the busy roadway.

Earlier this week, the board approved a change of use allowing for a one acre botanical garden at the former Victorian Park Family Entertainment Center.

A little over a year ago, the planning board approved a plan for a spa and salon at the main building of Victorian Park. The botanical garden will occupy the site of the former miniature golf course.

Property owner Kay Sharon said the botanical garden will provide both an educational and therapeutic setting for Salem residents.

People will be able to tour gardens highlighting different native species and there will also be educational opportunities for groups ranging from professional gardeners to local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

The garden will be a non-profit business with admission taken to help support its upkeep, according to Sharon.

The 640-square-foot building on the property that was used as a concession stand at the miniature golf course will be used for the admissions, office space, and possibly a small gift shop.

“This is what Salem needs,” said planning board member Paul Pelletier.

Pelletier said he has been a proponent of keeping Salem beautiful and that it needs more gardens and landscaping.

He added that the former miniature golf course, with its trails and water features intact, is the perfect location for a botanical garden in Salem.

In addition to the garden trails, Sharon said there will be benches and art installations throughout the garden to encourage people to stay and enjoy the area.

Town Planning Director Ross Moldoff noted that the site has enough parking for the salon and the botanical garden and that no town staff members had an issue with the plan.

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