A majority of the 80 people who attended the June 25 Clallam County Parks Department public meeting were against the proposed use of park land for an 18-hole disc golf course.
While outnumbered, those for the proposal had a strong contingent of support as well.
After a 30-minute discussion by parks staff on the proposed course, residents gave three-minute comments in support or against the proposal before a question and answer period.
Clallam County Parks staff member Bruce Giddens described disc golf as similar to regular golf but with Frisbees instead of balls and baskets instead of holes.
Its also on a smaller scale than regular golf and its free to the public, other than the $10 cost for a disc, Giddens said. The original master plan for Robin Hill Farm Park designated it as a mixed use area, with both active and passive activities occurring next to each other.
The plan identified uses such as sports fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, bicycle campgrounds, a putting green, picnic shelters and pedestrian and equestrian trails. After separate public hearings earlier this year, the Clallam County Parks Board and the Clallam County commissioners approved the placement of the disc golf course on the parks master plan, asking staff to look further into the proposal.
The proposal clears about 3 acres of undergrowth or 2 percent of the landscape, for eight of the holes. Four holes would be on existing trails and the rest would be in the meadow.
We are adding about three-quarters of a mile to the equestrian trail to stretch it into new areas to make room for everyone, Giddens said. We have always been responsive to the needs of the horse trails and this proposal does not change that.
The equestrians disagreed. Many took the proposal as a personal attack and blasted county parks staff during their time to speak.
Most speakers opposing the proposal said Robin Hill Farm Park was the wrong location, indicating a flying disc would disrupt a horses focus, causing a safety problem, and asking why other parks were not chosen. Others simply wanted the serenity of the park to stay the same.
My concerns are that discs and horses dont mix, said Julie Doon, an equestrian. I think it would be sacrilegious if this course goes into the park, the course should be installed in the area around the county fairgrounds.
Proponents for the park said a disc flying by would be no different than a bird flying by.
This is a public park. Children cannot afford to buy and board a horse like you and many need something more than just walking and thats what disc golf is a walk through the park throwing a disc, said Sequim disc golfer Roderic Sisk before pausing to let the uproar of opponents die down after his remark. We yield. Im yielding to you right now during my three minutes and if this park goes in, I will continue to yield to you in the park. We just want you to share.
Other opponents indicated they would be fine with any of the other originally designated uses but that disc golf is a special interest activity.
Proponents for the course came from as far away as Chimacum and Bremerton. Yet several from Sequim made their presence clear.
I got introduced to disc golf not long ago and we did a whole course and it was fun, Boy Scout Michael Cobb said, Im for the course, we need other things to do.
Mary Budke, Boys & Girls Club Carroll C Kendall unit director, agreed, stating children need more activities in the area, adding that disc golf would cause no more disruption to the serenity of the park than the nearby shooting range.
However, opponents to the proposal indicated their experience showed most disc golfers to be male, in their 20s and prone to using alcohol or drugs. But most who spoke in favor of the proposal were none of the above.
Ive lived in Sequim since I went to middle school and Ive never been to Robin Hill because it never had anything to offer me, Jessica Miller said. This activity would draw me there for the first time.
Equestrian Sharon Burris, of Sequim, said she believed disc golfers would not use the course in the winter, indicating it took up too much space and that it was not in the original plan. But Mike McAleer, of Sequim, countered, stating fewer than 20 acres of the 195-acre-park would be used for the course.
Clallam County Parks staff members said they would take comments regarding the plan and possibly amend it before taking the next steps toward making it a reality. After the plan is completed, the county will do a Washington State Environmental Policy Act review of the plan and ask for a conditional use permit for its construction. The proposal would go in front of Clallam County hearing examiner Chris Melly, at which time the public would have another opportunity to comment on its approval.
For more information on the Clallam County Parks Department or Robin Hill Farm Park, visit www.clallam.net/CountyParks.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
For a complete company directory with contact information please click HERE.