By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
After hearing from concerned neighbors of Sunset Park regarding the proposed expansion of the park?s disc golf course, the Washington City Council tabled a motion for the proposed expansion to examine the proposed changes firsthand.
During the regular council meeting Wednesday evening, council members asked that a workshop be scheduled so they could see where the proposed nine-hole expansion would be located and ensure that the new holes would not have a negative impact on neighbors. The decision came after four people who live near the park made presentations discussing how they have had problems with disc golfers trespassing on their property as well as other issues.
?Cooperation is defined as the process of groups working or acting together for common or mutual benefit as opposed to working in competition for selfish benefits,? Luke Leyden, one of the neighbors, said during public comment. ?The reason I am defining this is because we have gotten very little cooperation from the city administration.?
He explained problems his mother had when the parks department installed two new holes next to his mother?s property, saying they were not told beforehand or given the opportunity for input. He said the result was ?trespassing and the destruction of private property? with players trying to retrieve their discs. He said they had called the police many times regarding trespassers, which resulted in what he said was a ?retaliatory broken window.? He said the new holes would be installed even closer to his home and property, and that the neighbors had not been told about the project.
Before his presentation Leyden handed out a packet of papers to the council members outlining how an expanded course could be set up that would be removed from both private property and from West Madison Street, where there are traffic concerns. He said he is not opposed to expanding the course, but that safety for all concerned should be the main goal.
Several other neighbors gave presentations on how their property had been damaged by flying discs and on how disc golf players had treated them in a bad way. They also said they had seen council members playing on the course with people who were allowng dogs to run without a leash. Mayor Jaron Rosien admitted he was the one they were referring to and said he had talked to his friend about doing that.
Leyden said there are guidelines for setting up a disc golf course, which specifies 150 feet from a disc golf target to a property. He encouraged the council to use those guidelines. The proposed course would place a disc target 130 feet from his house. He commented that the course proposed was obviously not designed by a professional.
Rosien commented the concerns were valid and that they had been addressed. He also said the concerns with the expansion were not ?apples to apples.? He said he has measured the proposed course and said he did not believe discs would fly onto private property. He said he and Talon McFarland of the YMCA of Washington County had laid out the course and disc golfers had gone around the proposed holes to check them. During discussion McFarland said there are some violations with the proposed holes. He also stressed there are no set rules on how to set up a course, but there are suggestions.
?While not perfect, we made valid attempts to avoid the problems we have had north of the road,? Rosien explained.
Council member Danielle Pettit-Majewski admitted she had never played disc golf, but said she supported people getting out and getting exercise. She also said she wanted to make sure the neighbors? concerns were taken into account.
?I don?t feel like I am able to make an informed decision without having had time to process this information,? she said. ?I want to make sure we can find a balance that works.?
The council discussed setting up the course temporarily to see if any problems arise. Council member Brendan DeLong also said he is most concerned about cooperation between the city and the landowners. He said he is not opposed to expansion, but more cooperation should be given to the landowners.