It's been said you can't bring back the past.
But one can't help think about Cool Crest when one hears Tom Madsen talk about building a miniature golf course on city-owned park land near 48th and Holdrege streets.
For those too young to remember, Cool Crest was a kitschy miniature golf course at 220 N. 48th St. It closed in 1993.
Young and old putted happily through the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower, an alligator and dragon, a rocket ship, a Dutch windmill and a little covered bridge.
Madsen, president of Madsen Bowling & Billiards Center, doesn't want to re-create Cool Crest, but he does plan to consult with relatives of Irvin and Caroline Patterson, who built the course in 1950, for some construction tips.
The 18-hole miniature golf course would be built on the 1.11 acres that makes up Ecco Park. The park, named after the East Campus Community Organization, has some trees and a small creek lined with concrete running through it.
"Basically, the park has been vacated," Madsen said.
Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson agreed.
"Well, it's an underused piece of park property right now," he said. "It's essentially not used at all."
Ecco Park is close to a busy city intersection and has no parking, Johnson said, which makes it difficult for people to use.
About 10 years ago, the city worked with the neighborhood association to replace Ecco with McAdams Park at 43rd and Y streets. Some association members wanted to retain Ecco Park as a green entry into the neighborhood, Johnson said.
"This (the miniature golf course) accomplishes that because it keeps it as an open space and as an outdoor recreational opportunity for the community," he said.
Johnson's staff supports Madsen's proposal for a miniature golf course, but it also needs approval from the neighborhood association and Parks and Rec advisory boards and the City Council.
Madsen wants to lease the land, and Johnson said that would be the likely scenario because it would keep the park in public ownership.
"I'd like to know what the lease is going to be," Madsen said. "If it is going to be astronomical, this will stop me in my tracks."
Madsen said he already has spent $3,700 on design work for his proposal, which also calls for 37 parking spots on the Ecco Park land.
He estimates it will cost about $600,000 to build the golf course and he is looking for investors.
Madsen said he wants to build a miniature golf course that will be fun and competitive for adults and children.
"If I want to spend this amount of money, I want to go first class," he said.
And having a miniature golf course next door would be a great addition to the bowling and billiard business, he said, because those two activities slow down during the summer. The additional parking also would help.
Madsen said he has discussed his plans with the neighborhood association and the owner of the nearby Tobacco Shack and both support the project.
This is not the first miniature golf course in the area. Between 1963 and 1980, there was one inside the bowling and billiard business, which was called The Snooker Bowl back then, Madsen said.
He said he'd like to start construction next spring, but there's still a lot to accomplish.
"There's a mountain of work to do here," Madsen said.