Disc golf will remain in upper Bidwell Park
By LAURA URSENY - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/26/2008 12:38:07 AM PDT
CHICO — Disc golf will stay at its current location off Highway 32 after the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission voted 4-3 early today to keep the sport in upper park.
Hearing from more than 40 speakers in a meeting lasting more than five hours, the commission decided to keep the two 18-hole courses and make improvements at the 38-acre site.
Steve Lucas, David Wood and Michael Candela agreed with Jim Walker's motion to ask local volunteers to maintain and operate the courses. Walker said he hoped money from a state parks and recreation bond could be used to help make improvements at the courses, such as tee pads, baskets, signs and erosion control.
The commission concluded taking public comment both on the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan Environmental Impact Report and the matter of disc golf after midnight.
Before the decision came after midnight, impassioned speakers told the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission Monday night why it should or shouldn't allow disc golf to continue in upper Bidwell Park.
More than 50 people took turns addressing the commission, explaining their viewpoints and the community benefit of their perspective.
Disc golf players, many accompanied by their children, begged the commission to keep disc golf alive in its current location, a 40-acre site off Highway 32 east of Chico.
Supporters said the course offered healthy, low-cost recreation, and an appreciation for a beautiful site. They pointed out the city
would be losing an asset by removing the site.
Responding to damage done to the area, players suggested that large nets could protect the trees, in addition to realigning the course.
Of several choices, Option A with an 18-hole long course and 18-hole short course, was mentioned the most.
Supporters assured the commission that players would step up to fund the course and its maintenance. A nonprofit organization has been created through the North Valley Community Foundation for contributions, and the city has some Proposition 40 funding set aside for recreation.
Critics begged for protection of the same site, saying it was the wrong location for the popular game. The course had been constructed on the property without permission when it was owned by the Bureau of Land Management. The city purchased the land, possibly not knowing a primitive course was there.
Both the Yahi Chapter of the Sierra Club and Friends of Bidwell Park asked for the course to be removed, and the area to be restored to a natural environment. A petition bearing more than 600 names was turned in support of relocation.
Critics offered alternative sites, and pointed out that even the mitigation measures suggested for the course did not fully protect the area, from the blue oak trees to protected species of plants and vernal pools.
Critics pointed out the cost of improving and maintaining the course would tax the city beyond its current budget problems and staffing shortages, while other more current park needs suffered. Critics also pointed out there was no money available to fund the mitigation measures.
Asked by one commissioner about alternative locations for the course, speakers suggested a variety of locations — from Commanche Creek and school grounds, to the current Bidwell Park Golf Course and private development.
Staff writer Laura Urseny can be reached at 896-7756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.