Burlington's Parks & Recreation Director Wayne Gross is recommending city parks commissioners reject a proposal to build a disc golf course at Leddy Park.
The commission will meet at the Robert Miller Community Center tomorrow night at 5 p.m. to discuss the issue. It's not a guarantee the members will support Gross' decision.
At the last monthly commission meeting, more than 100 people turned out — a slight majority of them opposed to the idea.
Disc golf in Burlington has been a heated issue, cropping up in the mayoral campaign and drawing more than 100 people on more than one occasion to debate its merits and faults. Even the city council has stayed abreast of the controversial issue and is expected to take it up after the parks and recreation commission does.
A year ago Gross and the five-member commission gave the B'Town Disc Golf Club permission to clear trees from part of the forested area at Leddy Park. Neighbors immediately objected to the plan, claiming it would impair a "natural area" and be a safety hazard for other people at the park, among other problems.
Gross, in particular, has taken plenty of criticism from neighbors for not seeking more public input. So he did, and after weighing that public input and the impacts disc golf would have, Gross believes a course would negatively impact other recreational uses in the park. Most importantly, he notes, it would damage the environment.
"[T]he number of likely users is far greater than I first imagined and would have more impact on the site than I first believed," writes Gross in his memo to the commission. "It is also likely that areas outside the fairway would also be subject to compaction and other trees would be subject to injury due to the impact of discs. I believe that these impacts are significant and would clearly alter the character of the woodlands."
Gross said the disc golf supporters have indicated a willingness to work with everyone to develop a course design to fit a specific area in the park — if such an area could be chosen. WIthout a master plan for the park to guide him or the commission, he said such an area is not easy to determine.
"My view is that the development of the disc golf course, regardless of size and exact location, would have a significant adverse impact on the woodlands of Leddy Park," said Gross. "Given the strong public support for preserving the natural qualities of these woodlands, I recommend that a disc golf course not be built in Leddy Park."
Gross believes having a course in Burlington would be an asset, but just not in Leddy Park. He offered no alternative sites.
"There may in fact not be a suitable location within an existing citypark. This would require considerable further study and should includeother lands in the city as well as park sites," he added.