07/14/2021 | Berlin approves Decatur Park Disc Golf Effort trial in August

A layout of the proposed disc golf course for Stephen Decatur Park is shown. Submitted image

BERLIN – City officials have approved plans for a trial disc golf program at Stephen Decatur Park.

Berlin’s city council on Monday voted 3-1 to approve special disc golf events at Stephen Decatur Park in August. Although several officials expressed reluctance to bring the sport to the park, they agreed to allow it on a trial basis.

“By the time you get to the end of this, we’ll know whether we like it or not,” said City Councilor Troy Purnell.

In May, Austin Widdowson, a local resident, approached the Berlin Parks Commission with a proposal to bring disc golf to Stephen Decatur Park. With the commission’s approval, Widdowson and his fellow disc golfers shared their vision this week with city council members. Widdowson said he wants to promote disc golf among local residents while promoting downtown Berlin to visiting golfers. He added that disc golf was similar to traditional golf except that players used discs, similar to Frisbees, and baskets.

“With one or two discs you can enjoy this sport. you don’t have to have a tee time or pay a green fee, ”said disc golf player Shawn Johnson.

Remax The right agent every step of the way

Widdowson said he and other members of Eastbound Disc Golf made a plan for a course around the perimeter of Stephen Decatur Park so that there was virtually no impact on people using the playgrounds or the walking path in the park.

“Coexistence would work really well,” Widdowson said.

He said the group wanted to set up a temporary course first to test the layout and logistics. Johnson said they hope to have their weekly club round at the park on August 1 and then also have trial events on August 10 and 22. These events would give them the opportunity to get feedback from players as well as the community. .

Widdowson said the group ultimately wanted to donate the equipment for a permanent disc golf course in the city. While they would like city staff to help install this equipment, other than that they said the only maintenance required by the city would be the mowing that is already happening in the park.

City administrator Jeff Fleetwood said disc golf was a great concept, but it had liability issues.

“I did research on this,” he said. “From a risk management perspective, what I’ve read has not been favorable.

Widdowson said there was a risk, as there is with any equipment in the park.

Mayor Zack Tyndall suggested the city contact the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT) for advice.

“Strangulation is a very genuine risk,” Fleetwood said.

Tyndall argued that LGIT could provide information regarding potential risks.

“I’m sure we’re not the only ones looking at this,” he said.

Johnson added that Schumaker Park in Salisbury featured a successfully used disc course for over a decade.

Tyndall said he liked the idea of ​​a pilot program and the fact that Widdowson’s group could come back to the board after trying out the layout.

City Councilor Jack Orris asked how players will make sure they don’t hit other park users with their discs. Widdowson said players are used to avoiding others.

“Very rarely is there a park that doesn’t already have human trafficking,” he said.

He added that disc golf would not attract as many people and players could easily avoid areas where families could congregate or use parts of the park. When the tournaments are underway, Widdowson said participants have signed disclaimers.

Asked about Eastbound Disc Golf’s nonprofit status, Widdowson said he did not yet have official approval because the Internal Revenue Service was months behind schedule.

City Councilor Jay Knerr said he was worried because two of the three dates the group wanted to try in August were weekends. The park and its pavilion are generally very busy on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Usually every weekend are birthdays and group meetings,” he said.

Widdowson said he didn’t see this as a problem because if the pavilion was not available the group could set up a pop-up tent in a secluded location.

Knerr said that looking at the group’s concept plan, the course seemed to dominate the park. He was critical of the proposed use of the pond section of the park.

“Suppose we wanted to set up a little skate park there, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” he said.

Widdowson stressed that the group’s goal is to be cohesive. Johnson added that the equipment they would use was temporary and could be removed from the park quickly.

“What we would like to do is bring in some temporary baskets and find out what this concept looks like in reality,” he said. “If we’re going to make adjustments and move on, we’re all okay with it.”

Fleetwood said they still have liability issues over the proposal, but Tyndall said city staff may research it in the coming weeks. He said he agreed with Widdowson that the parks were underutilized.

“If we could find some innovative ways, whether it’s a skate park, disc golf, whatever, to bring people out and together, I think that’s what a community is,” Tyndall said. “I don’t know which direction this project will take, but at least kudos for moving forward. “

The council voted 3-1, with Knerr opposed and Councilor Dean Burrell absent, to approve trial dates in August as long as liability issues were raised. Additionally, Orris and City Councilor Shaneka Nichols stressed that they didn’t want the baskets set up near the park pond.

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