Disc Golf missed the landing

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In June the Watertown City Council proposed the possibility of a Disc Golf Course in Watertown.

At the last city council meeting on August 22, that possibility dwindled when the council decided to abandon the option for a course near Evergreen Park.
“We received quite a few negative responses, people would rather it be a trail and native woodlands,” said councilman Adam Pawelk.

The proposed layout was an 18-hole course that could be changed to create different variations and work with possible baseball games at Evergreen Park. The layout was estimated at $15,284, a design that was priced at the lower end compared to some courses which can cost up to $25,000.

The third week of August the parks commission held a meeting with public input on the course proposal. Attendees filled out comment cards that asked what they did and did not like about the design and left space for additional comments.

Proximity to private property, parking, cost, safety, aesthetics and maintenance were concerns that were found. Though not all comments were negative. Positive comments revolved around kids and young people being able to get outside and particpating in a fun activity.

Though the responses led the parks commission to vote 6 – 0 on this course. They decided to look for alternative options for a course. The council had the final decision and unanimously voted to look at different locations, to think about a 9-hole option and to talk to the school board about possibly sharing space for a course.

“We’re concerned with abandoning current plan but will look into other alternatives,” Pawelk said, speaking for the parks commission. “We have to look at if this is a need or if this is going to be another unused amenity.”

The project was included in the capital investment plan and listed as a priority project. Councilman Lindsay Guetzkow noted that the council has set a precedent to support the park commission and listening to public feedback.

“I think we received pretty resounding feedback for not there, not that layout,” Guetzkow said.

City administrator Shane Fineran said to drop the project won’t be a lot of wasted money, only about $1,000 of consulting time. He said for now, the areas around the schools are the primary option. Fineran said other areas are time and space restricted but a 9-hole course might change that.

“As we pull back layers and look at other alternatives, some of those other locations may more sense,” Fineran said.

The parks commission and city staff will continue to look at other options and bring different ideas at a later time.
“Our job is to listen,” said Mayor Steve Washburn.

Disc golf is similar to regular golf but instead of balls and clubs, flying discs are used and a stroke is counted each time a disc is thrown. The goal is to get the disc into a basket, that is planted into the ground.

The design that has been proposed is an 18-hole course through Evergreen Park and around the Forest Hills neighborhood. It was designed by Alan Hansen-Begg with the parks commission. Begg has designed several courses in the neighboring areas.

“This is good land, it has all the elements that make good land for disc golf,” Begg said.

According to Begg, those features are open land as well as wooded features, elevation and water elements.

City Staff said the park commissioners are excited about the idea because of the possibility of growth and activity it could bring. There are several other neighboring cities that have courses including Baylor Park, Montrose, Delano, Cologne and Independence. Tournaments are a large part of disc golf and commissioners hope that could be possible in Watertown.

“It’s an amenity that a lot of our area has,” said council member Lindsay Guetzkow.

Courses can be estimated starting at $15,000 to $25,000 in construction, this proposed design is $15,284.

Begg said that with the proposed plan there is a possibility for flexibility for beginners as well as variety in different course options. He said that the baskets they have planned could be moved for such things.

For example, in the plan the there is a basket that goes near the baseball field. Begg said a beautiful thing about disc golf is that if there is a baseball game going on they can always just close that basket, though he is sure it wouldn’t get in the way.

As for parking, the skate park would be parking for the course according to Begg. Though the course is a couple mile trek, so the easiest place to park would be on Ironwood Avenue in the middle of the course Begg said.

This concerned a few city council members, but Begg assured them it wouldn’t be an issue because disc golf won’t boom overnight.

“At this point we have an opportunity passing us by,” he said. “Originally Watertown built one baseball field in Evergreen Park and now there are four. They didn’t know how popular it would be.”