By Greg Ellison
(Nov. 11, 2021) After having their idea tabled during discussions in September, Eastbound Disc Golf organizers returned to the Town Council meeting this week with a revamped proposal to install a nine-hole course in Stephen Decatur Park for a trial run through September 2022.
Eastbound Disc Golf members Shawn Johnson, Josh Maxfield and Randy Preston revived negotiations on Monday for a previously proposed 18-hole layout at the site on Tripoli Street.
Johnson said the design has been amended, and the nonprofit also received official 501c3 tax status.
“We’re grateful to be here,” he said. “In the previous meeting the spirit of the dialogue got awry.”
Johnson said the revised course, in addition to being half the scale, also responded to concerns over proximity to a park pond and walking path.
“It kind of stays away from the pond area,” he said.
Johnson said organizers were returning to obtain council members’ perspective and establish a plan to proceed with the project.
“Our request is to install a nine-hole layout for a six-month trial period,” he said.
Johnson said the goal of the test period is to assess optimal setup.
“To see if we need to do things differently or not at all,” he said. “We feel that in six months we can give the town … a chance to make up their minds on this sport and project.”
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood said an earlier draft memorandum of understanding with Eastbound Disc Golf would require tweaking to match the current proposal.
Fleetwood said the memorandum should specify the town would not be held liable for injuries related to the course, plus include a 30-day eviction clause and require insurance coverage for special events sponsored by the nonprofit.
Johnson confirmed the group had already acquired an insurance policy for staging events.
“We purchased a policy a few months ago in the spirit of this project,” he said.
Mayor Zach Tyndall noted the agreement would not require the town to approve tournaments.
Johnson said Eastbound Disc Golf members were fully aware of approval requirements.
“We fully expect to go through the normal approval process,” he said.
Councilmember Jay Knerr said the previously proposed 18-hole course felt intrusive.
“This will allow us to see if it causes problems in the park,” he said.
Johnson said the nine-hole course would be better suited for inexperienced players.
“We have to take a step back and realize not everybody cares about this stuff and we have to consider that too,” he said.
Councilmember Dean Burrell, who voted against the earlier proposal, echoed continued concerns.
“You’re asking town to allow … as you see fit a considerable portion of one of our main resources for your exclusive use,” he said.
Johnson questioned the exclusivity claim.
“It’s your property once it is donated under the longer- term agreement,” he said.
Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said Eastbound Disc Golf would purchase the equipment, which would be installed on a temporary basis.
“At the end of six months it will be installed in a more permanent fashion and the equipment signed over to the town,” she said. “Eastbound Disc Golf would hold tournaments and others using it would be at the discretion of the town.”
Johnson said ultimately the town would hold sway over course uses or special events.
“We have no expectation on having authority on who uses this equipment,” he said.
Councilmember Troy Purnell moved to approve the temporary course for a trial period ending Sept. 30, 2022.
Tyndall said before the trial run expires the town should have sufficient time to draft an agreement with consultation from attorney Dave Gaskill.