Jul 4, 2009
By Jon Flint, NPA Steering Committee Member - Ward 4, Tracy Dr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thu, 02 July 2009
Below is the formal Neighborhood Planning Assembly resolution on Disc Golf at Leddy Park. It will be voted on at the July 16th NPA meeting. Resolutions formally communicate the opinion of residents from Wards 4&7. If you wish to participate in this process, please attend the NPA meeting July 16th at the Heineberg Senior Center at 6:45 p.m.
WHEREAS the discussion about disc golf at Leddy Park has been a high profile issue for nine months in the new North End, and
WHEREAS testimony by professional naturalists has predicted that the introduction of disc golf would have a serious negative impact on the vitality of the Leddy Park woods and the integrity of the diverse ecolgical structure of those woods, and
WHEREAS testimony by numerous citizens who have been using the trails in the woods since the city acquired the property in 1971 suggests that the introduction of disc golf would effectively displace general pedestrian use of the woods, and
WHEREAS Mayor Kiss in an open letter to the Parks and Recreation Commission has stated, "...disc golf in not an appropriate activity for Leddy Park in the areas where it's proposed and I recommend against it...Open space at Leddy park--in this case the woods in question--isn't wasted space...It's clear that Burlington residents use the Leddy Woods for recreation and disc golf carved out of the woods is likely to be an intrusion on this use."
WHEREAS Wayne Gross, the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation in an open letter to the Commission has written,"...my view is that the development of the disc golf course, regardless of size and exact location, would have a significant adverse impact on the woodlands of Leddy Park. Given the strong public support for preserving the natural qualities of these woodlands, I recommend that a disc golf course not be built in Leddy Park."
WHERAS at its meeting on May 19 the Commission voted to continue the already nine months long evaluation of the appropriateness of disc golf at Leddy Park by shifting the discussion appropriateness of a nine hole course in contrast to an eighteen hole course, therefore
LET IT BE RESOLVED that disc golf is not appropriate for Leddy Park and will not be authorized in the Park.
NPAs influence public policy in several ways. One way NPAs express their sentiments and concerns about particular issues is in the form of resolutions. These resolutions are then distributed to the Mayor, City Councilors and appropriate City departments and commissions, ensuring that elected officials and Department heads know what residents are thinking about particular issues before they make decisions. Neighborhood Planning Assembly resolutions are shared with Steering Committee members of other Neighborhood Planning Assemblies in order to keep each other informed about their opinions on issues or projects of public concern.
Jun 5, 2009
Dogs, drinking at disc golf course irk neighbors
By Nathan Burgess
“We’re fed up,” Mike Keiser told the Waterbury Select Board on Monday.
The Keisers live on Loomis Street in Waterbury, adjacent to a disc golf course at Hope Davey Field.
Disc golf is a spin on traditional golf; it replaces balls with plastic discs, like Frisbees, and holes with metal or plastic baskets.
The Waterbury course, built in 2001, has been a headache for the Keisers, who have complained about disc golfers entering their property to retrieve discs, letting unleashed dogs run rampant on their lane, and drinking alcohol on the course, in violation of posted course rules. The couple supplied photos to prove their points.
“It has become out of control,” Mike Keiser said. “We’ve been Waterbury taxpayers for 30 years and we’re tired of it. Unfortunately, when we’ve gone up to these people to ask them to leave, they get verbally abusive and aggressive.”
Animal control officers Ed Brown and Ed Severance were also at the meeting; they have been called to the Keiser residence several times to confront players, and have faced the same attitude, Brown said.
“They look at us in our civilian clothes and think, ‘Who is this guy telling us what to do?’ We’ve asked people to keep their dogs on a leash, but it just falls on deaf ears,” Brown said.
Brown said most golfers he’s dealt with are from out of town.
“These people aren’t even taxpayers,” Brown said. “They don’t contribute to Waterbury at all and we have to go up and chase them, and the town has to pay our salary. I think if they were our friends and neighbors, more of them would understand the rules and respect them.”
A number of possible solutions were floated at the meeting, such as relocating the holes, erecting a fence to keep golfers out of the Keisers’ property, and banning dogs from the course.
The select board will likely contact Jesse Wing and Matt Alberghini, co-founders of the Green Mountain Disc Golf Club, who were instrumental in working with the town to get the course built, and ask for their ideas.
“The goal is to work with those people on improving the general level of courtesy,” said Rebecca Ellis, who chairs the select board. “There are multiple uses of that course and everybody has to work together to make it work. Ideally, we can contact local folks for the next meeting, and if other folks who play or play as an organization have any input, they’re welcome to show up.”
- There was a small sparse wooded area between 2nd hole and my house -- it was a public toilet. I'd look out my office window and see bare ass and -- well, you get the picture. My house was in plain sight, 40 ft away. They did not care.
- Then there was the golfer who peed in my garage! It had a gravel floor, fortunately. I saw someone coming out of my garage. He said he was looking for his golf ball, like that was a perfectly reasonable thing to be doing in my garage. I went in to check things and saw the wet spot. Damn!
- Golfer may have been there to steal tools, which happened, also.
- A golfer stole our dog -- other players snitched on her and we found the dog at her house and took it back.
- Now the damage -- cars dented in the driveway,
- and windows broken in my house. This golf course was rinky-dink and good golfers did not play there. Fariway 2 was a dog's leg and the balls, more often than not, missed the fairway and hit my house and cars.
- I became concerned on a different level when a neighbor walking her baby down the lane took a hit, well the stroller was hit. The town told us to post No Tresspassing signs if WE were concerned about liability! The sign might keep walking neighbors away, but not the golfers.
- We tried to get the course owner to make some safety-related changes, but he refused. "You live next to a golf course, what do you expect?" was his response.
- When our property flooded because the golf course was built in a swampy wetland, and a retention pond that drained off the area was not properly maintained and there was no enforcement of permit conditions or subdivision regs., spring runoff flooded our property. The city said there was nothing they could do. The owner was an LLC, of course. Advocates for the owner claimed it was a 100 year flood, even after it happened 3 years in a row. [They donated money every year to the Little League.]
- The flooding failed our septic system, among other things, but the septic failure was the most costly to us personally. My pet ducks were in heaven so I had mixed feeling. Until the bills came.
- Drinking and swearing. There were special days for club groups, and those days were THE WORST because the club group golfers had no regard for each other so constraints that could have damped things down a bit otherwise on a public course, were absent on club days. They tried to outdo each other with vulgarity, in word and deed. And they were lousy golfers, usually drinking more or at least openly displaying it more, so on "club days" there were more hits than usual on my property.
- Entitlement: Golfers think they have the right to jump your fence, trample through your gardens, your yard, your garage, your deck, anywhere on your property, to retrieve their projectile property. They get abusive if confronted, and we got several lectures about how expensive golf balls are! I started collecting golf balls from my yard and surroundings at night, putting them in a bucket by the property line with a sweet note saying "Lose one? Take one." Most days a golfer would steal ALL the golf balls first thing in the morning, and that was that for the day.
Jun 3, 2009
- August 13, 2008. The dream of a disc golf course in Burlington is no longer just a dream. Approval has been granted to move forward with the project and a seriously dedicated group of people is working to get this course installed over the next couple of months. The GMDGC has been providing assistance with course design and will be helping lead the charge during the installation phase. There are many opportunities to help make this a reality. from http://gmdgc.org/2008/
Here is the REALITY of this issue, deleted by Council from the RESOLUTION, is this:
- WHEREAS testimony by numerous citizens who have been using the trails in the woods since the city acquired the property in 1971 suggests the introduction of disc golf would effectively displace general pedestrian use of the woods, and
- WHEREAS Mayor Kiss in an open letter to the Parks and Recreation Commission has stated, “... disc golf is not an appropriate activity for Leddy Park in the areas where it’s proposed and I recommend against it... Open space at Leddy Park – in this case the woods in question — isn’t wasted space ... It’s clear that Burlington residents use the Leddy Woods for recreation and disc golf carved out of those woods is likely to be an intrusion on this use.”
- WHEREAS Wayne Gross, the director oft he Department of Parks and Recreation in an open letter to the Commission has written, “...my view is that the development of the disc golf course, regardless of the size and exact location, would have a significant adverse impact on the woodlands of Leddy Park. Given the strong public support for preserving the natural qualities of these woodlands, I recommend that a disc golf course not be built in Leddy Park.”
The resolution before the Council did not take Leddy Park out of consideration, but did resolve that our Parks & Recreation Commission look at other locations for disc golf. Although not the definitive resolution that we all wanted, it was an important step in directing our Parks & Recreation Commission to consider other alternative locations. The Council discussed this latest draft.
Councilor Decelles wanted stronger language that would take Leddy Park out of consideration and offered amendments to this end, but when passage of the amended resolution was in doubt, the original unamended resolution was considered again and discussion continued.
Councilor Adrian then offered an amendment that removed certain paragraphs of the resolution that cited displacement of current park users, the Mayor’s letter, and Director Gross’ letter. All three paragraphs supported the argument that Leddy Park is not an appropriate location.
Ironically, Councilor Adrian’s amendment was included and the Council passed the amended resolution, with all four of the original sponsors voting against it. Our Ward 4 and 7 Councilors felt the resolution had lost much of its original intent and weight.
Overall I believe the passage of this resolution is positive in that it directs Parks & Recreation Commission look at other locations for disc golf. Until last night, only Leddy Park was being considered. Broadening the search for locations may eventually remove the threat of disc golf in Leddy Park.
I have included the original resolution below and bolded those paragraphs that made it into the final amended version. Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 shown unbolded and indented below, were removed through Councilor Adrian’s amendment.
Jun 1, 2009
City Council, June 1, 2009
Public Forum, Disc Golf in Leddy Park
The City of Burlington, Department of Planning and Zoning, prepared a Neighborhood Activity Center Report* featuring North Avenue and Riverside Avenue Neighborhood Activity Centers (NACs). The report included the results of a design charrette of the Ethan Allen Shopping Center (North End NAC) conducted at the American Planning Association Northeast Regional Conference in Burlington, October 1993.
Everywhere in the report, and in the design charrette, pedestrian access was considered a social and economic asset to the North End Neighborhood Activity Center. Noting the dense population of the area, and the connectivity between the avenue, shopping center, park, bike path, residential areas and lakefront, pedestrian-related issues factored into every aspect of the charrette. Pedestrian access issues were evaluated as either strengths or weaknesses. Anything that expanded access and made the area MORE pedestrian friendly was positive. Anything that inhibited or blocked pedestrian flow was a negative. Seven groups all identified similar pedestrian strengths and weaknesses in the North End NAC:
· Highly accessible to pedestrians
· Good access by road, bike path, & pedestrian circulation
· Neighborhood is pedestrian friendly
· [Shopping center is]Abutting park/bike path
· Park and it’s access [are assets]
· Pedestrian access from rear of shopping center
· Possible pedestrian mall
· Link residential uses to park and shopping center
· Better connection & access to park, bike path, & beach
· Connection with bike path and park
· Poor pedestrian access from abutting land
· No visual or footpath access to park [no gateway]
· Pedestrian unfriendly, especially to the elderly
· Lack of pedestrian facilities
· Unfriendly pedestrian access
· [Poor] pedestrian linkage
Decisions that inhibit the pedestrian-friendly value of the shopping area and surrounding park and adjacent neighborhoods must not be taken lightly. Our Neighborhood Activity Center is moving toward the vision of the 1993 NAC Report and the APA design charette. Redevelopment of the site has enhanced the pedestrian park atmosphere. Mr. Hauke has opened the gateway – between the theater and Hannaford’s -- informally. A 300-unit senior/mixed housing project has won the bid on the state-owned land next to the shopping center, in the NAC. We must keep the park pedestrian-friendly for seniors, already a large demographic in the North End.
The design charrette envisioned a North Avenue [bike]ped gateway to the park, entering by the Bagel Café, traversing a pedestrian friendly shopping park, and moving into pedestrian-friendly Leddy Park through the pine grove between the tennis courts and the soccer fields. Other access points would be from the neighborhoods via the network of walking trails, and from the bikepath. Change moves slowly in Vermont, even in Burlington. No one who hopes for the Southern Connector is ready to give up. 2500 residents who petitioned the city for a dog park waited 5 years for it to be realized.
Change takes time here, but our NAC is moving in the right direction. Bike and pedestrian-friendliness and pedestrian connectivity will be even more valuable to us in the future than it is today as we learn to conserve energy and continue to treasure the front porch neighborhoods that characterize the North End.
Please support the resolution to evaluate other sites for a disc golf course, and preserve the wooded trails in pedestrian-friendly Leddy Park that are an integral part of our pedestrian-friendly Ward 4/7 Neighborhood Activity Center.
*City of Burlington Vermont. Neighborhood Activity Center Report. September 1994. Burlington Department of Planning and Zoning. With design assistance from Julie Campoli, Landscape Architect and Turner Brooks, Architect. All or parts of this report were produced with funding assistance from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community affairs through the Municipal Planning Grant Program #0061/94MPO3
May 31, 2009
As a disc golfer I am very concerned by the recent vote by the Parks Commission to give btown disc golf 9 hole course consideration in Leddy Park. Immediately following thie vote, Btown president Brenden Bush stated publicly to the media that his group intends to use any Leddy 9 hole course to recruit and lobby for 18 holes at Leddy. See Shay Totten's 7 Days blog. I believe this is subversion of the process. It is time for the city to say no to disc golf in Leddy Park so that this group and the city can move on. It would be nice if the city could have a disc golf course, but not at the high price of sacrificing the current and future uses that Leddy offers to a wide variety of residents and visitors rather than a large scale single use game.
Also, to Wayne Gross' credit, after studying the issues from both sides and listening to public comment, he reversed his initial 'yes' reccomendation to 'no', not an easy administrative decision, and advised the commission to vote against any disc golf in Leddy. Save for Dave Hartnett, who voted no, the commission ignored Gross' reccomendation and went ahead with a 'no' to 18 but 'yes' to 9, thereby re-opening for btown this whole issue. Had the commission said no to Leddy, but yes to disc golf in Burlington if there is a place, we would be moving on and already looking at alternatives if there are any.
As a disc golfer who has walked the landfill with Dave Brezniak, I believe the landfill represents an excellent and unique 18 hole course opportunity. Galvanized steel washbasins can be filled with concrete for basket stands and be placed on top of the clay cap without piercing it. The fairways can be mowed and roughs allowed to grow. There are also approximately 3-4 acres of dry wooded potential holes between the landfill and 127 beltline. Dave and I agreed that with the woods the site is probably between 10 to 15 acres. Play can start early in the spring once the landfill dries off giving residents an early opportunity for exercise even before the bike path ice melts.
I don't believe the site can be used for much else given its contour and brown site status. Now, wind and elevation, and not just trees become challenges for the player requiring up, down, and sideways throws. The wooded holes will provide needed player respite on hot sunny days. Wooden blinds on feet can also be erected to make holes more challenging. A few portopotties and picnic tables can be installed courtesy of btown. Parks and btown and professional disc golf association websites can tell people that parking is severely limited and encourage people to ride bikes, buses, or walk to the course, which adjoins a remote section of the bikepath. This puts a natural damper on potentially high levels of activity so that the city can gauge the course without the course being overwhelming or problematic. If there are problems, the course can be removed from the landfill much more easily than after cutting holes thru Leddy Park. Old north end eateries and grocery stores might also profit. Steve Goodkind also said recently at NPA and DPW meetings that he did not see a problem with using the landfill for this purpose.
For these reasons, please consider Russ Ellis' resolution to stop Leddy Park disc golf and thank you for all your hard work and attention in this matter.
To: Members of Burlington City Council
From: Patrick Kearney
Former member of Disc Golf Working Group
Subject: Safety of Pedestrians in Leddy Park if Disc Golf is Approved
Date: May 30, 2009
As a member of the working group I did considerable research regarding disc golf and learned a great deal about the sport and what actions must be taken to guarantee the safety of pedestrians.
Leddy Park is much different than other parks in the city because pedestrians, if the residents within the new north end want to walk or bike to the arena or beach they must use the paths in the woods or the narrow roadway. It is apparent by looking at the trails the trails get considerable use. Therefore it is not appropriate to have a disc golf course in the same location. I personally spoke with Steve Allen and requested that he consider the safety of pedestrians when making a recommendation regarding disc golf in Leddy Park. Wayne Gross after working with his staff and contacting other park managers recommended to the commission that disc golf was not appropriate in Leddy Park. However Steve Allen, Carolyn Hanson, John Ewing and Barbara Nolfi did not listen to Wayne. I realize that the City Council does not want to micro manage a commission but it is obvious to most persons I speak with that during the last 18 months the Parks and Recreation commission is not a great example of how a commission is supposed to work for the citizens of Burlington.
1. Disc can be thrown 80 miles per hour and 600 feet in distance. See attachment
2. Discs do not always go where they are intended to go. Therefore significant injuries may occur. At Kansas State University one person had to have facial stitches and dental work. Also the buildings received thousands of dollars of damage. During our disc golf meeting some players admitted they have been hit by disc.
3. Once a disc course is installed you cannot shut it down or control the use. Players will play even though the baskets have been removed.
4. You cannot control the number of persons that use the course
5. You cannot control the times of year that people play. They play year round in Michigan and Colorado and perhaps more states.
6. I have tried to help the Btown disc golf group find other sites:
Thomas Hubbard of South Burlington Parks and Recreation has no area for disc golf even though they have several parks and the 110 Acre Caulking’s property.
Brad Luck of Essex Junction Parks and Recreation has no area for disc golf even though they have the former Vermont State Forest area.
Glen Cuititia of Colchester Parks and Recreation has no area for disc golf and no interest.
Jim McCullough of Catamount has a 500 acre family center. Jim will not risk some of the users of the family center may hit by a golf disc off course.
It is not reasonable to expect that disc golf can coexist with pedestrians that must use the trails to access the arena and beach.Please support Russ Ellis and his Resolution to stop disc golf in Leddy Park.
May 24, 2009
Parks Commission Meeting, May 19, 2009
John Briggs, Burlington Free Press
May 20, 2009
Free Press Staff Writer
An 18-basket disc golf course isn’t coming to Burlington’s Leddy Park.
The Parks and Recreation Commission made that decision Tuesday before a crowd of about 60.
The commissioners did agree by a 4-1 vote to consider a 9-basket course at Leddy if it were professionally designed with input from the city arborist and county forester to minimize its impact on the woods and was located east of the parking lot and west of the athletic field and well away from high traffic areas. They made clear that their openness to consider such a plan didn’t suggest they would approve it.
Commissioner Dave Hartnett voted against the smaller course, saying it made little sense reviewing plans for a course that wouldn’t be suitable for disc golf tournaments. He said it would be preferable to find a location in the city suitable for an 18-basket course.
Disc golf is scored like traditional golf but uses Frisbee-like discs that are aimed at a basket on a pole.Parks Director Wayne Gross recommended that the course not be built. In a memo to the commission he said the estimated 1,000 disc golfers who would use the course each week could impinge on the quiet in the Leddy Park woods and lead to “significant” soil and root impaction that could allow “the spread of non-native invasive (plant) species.”
Gross concluded the course “would have a significant adverse impact” on the Leddy Park woods. “Given the strong public support for preserving the natural qualities of these woodlands,” he said, “I recommend that a disc golf course not be built in Leddy Park.”
Mayor Bob Kiss also weighed in, telling the commission in a memo Tuesday that as the discussion has moved along, “it’s become clearer to me that disc golf is not an appropriate activity for Leddy Park in the areas where it’s proposed and I recommend against it.”
Gross and the commission approved the proposal last summer from the BTown Disc Golf Club to build the course and, without involving the public in the decision, allowed the group to begin cutting fairways through the woods under the supervision of the city arborist.
Within days, it became clear that a sizable number of residents didn’t want a course through the woods, citing concerns about alcohol use, increased traffic and noise and damage to the woods. Others were outraged that the work began without the public having been given a chance to comment.
A crowd of about 150 turned out Sept. 3 for a tumultuous public meeting, and Gross apologized for not informing them before work began. Not everyone at the meeting was opposed to the course. The disc golf group also drew many supporters.
Gross put an end to additional work on the course in early September, and the commission created a seven-person working group that throughout the winter studied the issue. They drew a crowd of about 100 to the Miller Recreation Center when they reported their views to the commission in late April. The group divided 4-3 in favor of the course.
Tuesday’s compromise proposal for a smaller course will not be the last word on the issue. In September the City Council indicated it wanted to get involved if work on the course were to resume. Gross suggested the commission notify the council of Tuesday’s decision.After the meeting some opponents of disc golf made clear their unhappiness with the commission’s willingness to review a 9-basket course at Leddy Park. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to have any disc golf (there),” Jim Court said.
Mark Barlow, another opponent, said disc golf would change the character of the park. He said he is unhappy the issue might be revisited.
Adam Quinn, a member of the BTown club, said he was encouraged that the commission had overcome “a lot of misinformation” from opponents of the course and understood that “it’s a great sport, a safe sport and compatible with Leddy Park.”
Commissioner Carolyn Hanson spent several minutes before announcing her vote chastising some in the crowd for their manners during the nine-month debate.
“I have felt at times attacked,” she said. She commended the working group for sticking at its work in an unpleasant atmosphere and said she was disappointed that some public meetings erupted in “claps and hisses and boos” as individuals spoke.
She said that some in the debate displayed “a very intense mentality that is not good for our community.”
Note: Many in the audience were dismayed at the mentality displayed by some parks commission members. It is not good for our community to have people on a city commission with so little regard for public opinion.
May 18, 2009
TO: Parks and Recreation Commissioners
FROM: Wayne E. Gross, Director
RE: Disc Golf Recommendation
DATE: May 14, 2009
...after carefully considering this matter, my view is that the development of the disc golf course, regardless of size and exact location, would have a significant adverse impact on the woodlands of Leddy Park. Given the strong public support for preserving the natural qualities of these woodlands, I recommend that a disc golf course not be built in Leddy Park. While I do believe that having a course in Burlington would be an asset to the City, it does not have to be in Leddy Park and in my view should not be constructed here. With that being said, I am not prepared to suggest any alternative locations for a disc golf course at this time. There may in fact not be a suitable location within an existing city park. This would require considerable further study and should include other lands in the city as well as park sites. I hope this information is useful to you as you deliberate this important policy question.
May 15, 2009
The map above is missing most of the walking trails, which have been added to the map below. The red dots on both maps are statistically probable impact areas where the discs will fly. The red dot areas impact all of the walking trails, and the bikepath (the green line).
May 12, 2009
Disc golf serves small minority
Within the next few months the Burlington City Council will likely vote on a measure that is the de facto equivalent of blocking 99 percent of its residents from using 90 percent of one of its city parks. That measure is whether Leddy Park's wooded areas should be turned into an 18 hole disc golf course. Yes, the city will retain technical ownership of the entire park. But ....
Imagine yourself as being a nongolfer as you attempt to walk the fairways of an in-use regular golf course. Would you feel welcome? Of course not. Unkind words would surely fly, and I would expect fists would occasionally fly, too. The same will be true of disc golf at Leddy park.
If only 1 percent of Burlington's residents play disc golf, the other 99 percent will be unwelcome to use a huge percentage of Leddy Park, an area that is now a quiet and tranquil wooded area with walking trails and wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. Substantial tree cutting has already happened in anticipation of approval.
Let the City Council know how you feel. Better yet, attend their meetings. The park is for everyone, not just the probably fewer than 1 percent of residents that play disc golf.
May 7, 2009
It's pretty dramatic- many trees were cut and debarked, especially many striped maple. The railroad ties that had been placed at the south end of the marathon trail were moved to this fort.
Note: Parks Dept. disregard for the woodlands, cutting and piling up trees in areas where disc golf was proposed, set a bad example for youth in the area. Similarly, Parks Dept. removed leddypark.org signs from public space before a Parks Commission meeting, and the signs were stolen during the meeting. This culture of disrespect is not good for our community.
May 1, 2009
Comment, Maeve Cohen [North End resident]
Thanks for covering this issue. From the video it appears that you could use more insight into why people are opposed to disc golf in Leddy Park. I have lived on Fern Street which borders the park for the past year, and have been a Burlington resident for 16 years. I walk through the Leddy Park woods to the beach on a daily basis. Prior to that I lived in the South End of Burlington and have been traveling to Leddy Park many years. While I am now a direct neighbor of this park, I had just as much interest and concern for protection of this small slice of urban woodland while living elsewhere in Burlington. The people in opposition to disc golf in the woods have been characterized in your piece as just a group of neighbors near the park, and that is not true. This jewel of a park belongs to everyone in Burlington.
In making this decision about disc golf it is extremely important to consider how this area of the city has grown since Leddy Park was loosely classified as recreational space. I met a business owner in the North Avenue plaza who grew up on Gosse Court, the very street where the Miller Center is now. When she was raised on Gosse Court there were only two houses on the street and it was actually still a dirt road. All along that street were woods where she played. This is not a deceased ancestor. This is a woman still alive and working, so the changes to the New North End in terms of open space have happened in a very short time. Today the entire North End is similar to Gosse Court -- one house after another, one street after another. Now that children and adults no longer have pockets of forest next to their homes anywhere in this suburban stretch, the Leddy Park woods are absolutely invaluable. Leddy is very much woven into the fabric of this neighborhood and this city as a place of respite and enjoyment which is by no means unused. The land must be carefully considered in the context of what we have left for open space now as opposed to when the city first acquired the park.
This decision also requires the important definition of what constitutes "recreation". The woman on the working group who raised the issue of defining what recreation means was speaking to the real heart of this matter. There are already several forms of competitive sports going on in Leddy Park. These activities are done mainly by children and young men. There is also walking and other forms of exercise done on the wooded trails, along with learning, observing nature, and just plain decompressing that is made possible by access to these rare beautiful woods by the lake. These activities seem to be done mostly by mothers with young children and middle-age/older men and women. Elders tend to get their exercise by walking, and many express a deep enjoyment of walking in nature. I would hope that this form of recreation is not to be discounted by Parks and Rec. Are elders and others who don't do organized sports less entitled to use these woods for their form of recreation? When I walk in the woods I am "active". This IS recreational use of this park. Because an activity is not competitive does not mean that it should be labeled as "passive". Passive recreation is an outdated term for describing recreation and I believe activities should be defined as competitive or non-competitive.
If the City Council truly is committed to the Burlington Livable Community Project which is looking to improve life for the future demographic changes which are coming to this city, then the prospect of a relatively small sporting group altering a priceless natural park is a very, very big issue. In the future demographic shift which is already occurring this park would be used by an even larger population of seniors. The Burlington Livable Community Project can be researched on the web. It's very much related to this debate in Leddy Park.
While at the public meeting the other night, I was surrounded on all sides by proponents of disc golf. As the elder women spoke of birds, animals, quietude, these people sat snickering and making audible mocking comments. This repulsed me, and I couldn't help but think, "Is this the kind of person we want more of in the woods of Leddy Park???" Do I want to walk in the woods near people who make snide remarks about grandmothers who grew up with this park? Is this the kind of integrity that makes Burlington the caring city that it is?" Certainly not. I venture to guess it could have been the same people who stole all the yellow signs directing people to the meeting.
I myself am not a senior citizen, just someone who has not lost a connection with nature. I am raising two children and have spent much time with my family in Leddy Park. There is a palpable sense of wonder when we enter the woods from the neighborhood. My toddler always wants to get out of the stroller and discover a different world. He says with awe, "We're in the WOODS now!" And he asks about how the tree fell over, or why those mushrooms grow on the branches, or what was that bird saying?" How can it be described to people who see a forest as a place to be trampled for yet more organized sporting... how can it be described that it is of incredible value to be able to show our children a world other than a plastic sterile playground with uniform wood chips, noise and car exhaust in the air?
When my oldest son was small we lived in downtown Burlington and as a single parent I did not have a car. I used to take him on the bus out here to Leddy Park frequently to explore the woods and enjoy the beach. Not everyone in this town has cars as most of the disc golfers do. Not everyone in this city is able to take their children out of town to the country for a river swim, to the mountains for skiing, to Florida in winter for vacation. I think it's safe to say that most of the college students around Burlington and others who play disc golf have the ability to do those things. But Leddy Park belongs to ALL of the residents in this city. Leddy, in its present state is an invaluable piece of beauty for everyone, including those with no cars and little money to take their kids to experience nature outside of town. It's on a bus route. I used it all the time. My children benefitted immensely from these outings we called little vacations. Now I am lucky enough to live right next to this gem of a park which currently offers a perfect balance of recreation for those who like competitive organized sports, as well for those who like walking, observing wildlife, breathing fresh air, and swimming at an uncrowded beach.
Lastly, my biggest concern of all is one which no one has mentioned yet, and that is the beach itself. I go to Leddy Beach every single day during the warm months, whether it is on my morning walk, or to bring my kids for a swim. I choose to go to Leddy over other beaches precisely because of the character of this beach. It does not have large groups of people drinking alcohol, smoking, playing loud music, and making vociferous comments about women as they walk by. There are no lifeguards, no whistles blowing, and people are free to just have a calm day in a beautiful place. In short, Leddy Beach does not have these negative things which I'm certain would change if large groups were coming down to the beach after their games and tournaments. I go to Leddy Beach because it is an amazing, pristine, peaceful and safe place to enjoy the lake. Everyone is there because they truly appreciate the location and they want to be there, and not as a place to drink some beer and hang out with a crowd after a game. If disc golf were allowed into the woods, then this beloved beach would change drastically. People have talked of the pollution of the lake with the increased run-off of car oil in the parking lot. What about the immediate beach water? What would become of the clear water with a parking lot full of cars?
I am kept awake at night with the prospect of this unthinkable mistake happening to Leddy Beach and Park. I urge the decision-makers not to allow disc golf to go into Leddy Park and destroy the walking paths and beach which are absolute treasures to the residents of Burlington. I for one, would no longer take my two-year-old walking in the woods with discs flying. We would be unable to use that precious sanctuary that I have enjoyed for 16 years, and some seniors have cherished their whole lives. Having access to nature is every bit as important to a healthy city as adding another competitive sport for a relative few. I think that disc golf is a fine activity in an appropriate place. It should not under any circumstances, be located in Leddy Park.
Maeve Cohen [North End resident]
Comment, Brendan Bush, Disc Golf Technical Adviser: great video Eva.
Comment, Brendan Bush, Disc Golf Technical Adviser: great video Eva.