I am writing about the newest in a series of failures that have plagued the review process for the Leddy Park disc golf course proposal. This latest, an obvious conflict of interest for one of the experts sitting on the Disc Golf Working Group whose recent action calls into question the completeness and accuracy of any expert technical advice he provides to the group.
Brenden Bush and Peter Hess of BTown Disc Golf Club are to be "technical advisors to the DGWG regarding the design and operation of a disc golf course" according to the Parks & Recreation Department. In this role, one would think that Bush and Hess would be available when questions arose that required the input of a technical expert.
Anybody who has attended a DGWG meeting has seen the BTown members sitting at the table with other members of the DGWG actively involved in discussion and giving opinion on matters beyond technical aspects of the course design and operation.
Members of the public have recently been granted two minutes to give their opinion during the public comment portion of the DGWG meetings, while two Btown members are given hours of unfettered access to the DGWG while it deliberates. This is another process failure on its own but not why I am writing.
To my main point, Brendan Bush's February 13 post on the BTown Disc Golf Club FaceBook page calls into question his ability to provide the kind of unbiased expert information required by the DGWG and further, presents an obvious conflict of interest.
A lot of you have been asking what else you can do to help move the Leddy Park disc golf project forward, beyond showing up to give your public comment to the working group.The group opposed to the course is organized online and in their neighborhoods, and it's time for us to step it up and do the same.
So here's the deal: we're holding an organizing meeting on Thursday, February 19, and we want you and your disc-golfing friends to be there.
Sapa's Coffee and Tea
9 Center St. (between Climb High and Daily Planet)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or RSVP to the facebook event listed on our facebook page to let us know you are coming ( http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=51130228790&ref=nf )
We'll be going over our plans to engage and recruit more members of our community, and what you can do to help.We'll have talking points, flyers and signup sheets for you to use, and we'll give you some basic guidelines on reaching out to those in your neighborhoods, classes, offices and anywhere else.
An 18-hole disc golf course in Leddy Park will be a huge asset to our community, and we need to make sure that everyone in our community understands that.So please join us on Thursday, February 19 at Sapa's in downtown Burlington.
Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you there,
BTown Disc Golf Club
p.s. Please send this email to everyone you know in Burlington who supports this project, and ask them to join us on Thursday as well.
During DGWG member selection, the Parks & Recreation Commission were so adamant about not wanting to introduce bias into the group, that they felt it necessary to exclude neighbors whose property abutted Leddy Park, even when the those neighbors had been vetted by the NPA and offered as DGWG candidates to the commission. Certainly the actions of Bush would fail those same standards.
Clearly, members of the DGWG should not be involved in activity related to the Leddy Park disc golf proposal that represents a conflict of interest with their DGWG responsibilities. Bush's recruitment and organizing efforts in support of the Leddy course proposal are inappropriate and represent a conflict of interest while he is serving on the DGWG.
BTown Club members like Bush, who invested time and energy into getting a course built in Leddy Park before this current period of review started, are not the unbiased experts the DGWG should be depending on for technical advice. In fact they are just as biased as any park neighbor who does not want to see valuable park woodlands cleared for disc golf.
I'm sure you will take appropriate action to address this issue. But addressing this issue alone won't solve the larger issue surrounding the current proposal.
Our community would be best served if the DGWG were immediately dissolved and we stopped wasting city resources, time, and energy on a flawed process to find justification for the controversial and divisive proposal to place an 18 hole disc golf course in Leddy Park. Instead what is needed is the creation of a task force with a broader mandate to find an appropriate location for a disc golf course that does not require the destruction of valuable city open space, has the support of city residents including any neighbors, and meets the requirements of the BTown Disc Golf Club.