Jun 5, 2009

WARNING: Do whatever it takes to keep disc golf out of Leddy Park, or you will regret it.


Dogs, drinking at disc golf course irk neighbors

By Nathan Burgess
Thursday, June 4, 2009 12:04 PM EDT
When an unleashed dog scurried through Mike and Izzy Keiser’s cat door and into their house, and attacked the family’s cat while Mike’s mother lay in bed with cancer, the couple knew they had had enough.

“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.”

That Waterbury disc golf course article gave me chills of deja vu. I lived next to a golf course for 20+ years on Marble Island in Colchester, and I saw it all!

  • 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.
The constant rude invasion -- someone else's idea of fun taking away of my quality of life -- taught me a lesson I will NEVER forget. Do whatever it takes to stop disc golf in Leddy Park.

Lea Terhune

Jun 3, 2009

DREAM ON.........

  • 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.”
Whatever is the City Council thinking when they delete these significant facts and encourage the Parks Commission to continue considering disc golf in Leddy Park, 9 holes instead if 18? What part of NO don't they understand? Perhaps they are hoping that by dragging this issue on longer, residents of the North End will continue to be distracted from IRV petitions and budget issues in the city.

City Council Fails to STOP Disc Golf in Leddy Park

...Councilor Ellis had drafted a resolution that called for the removal of Leddy Park from consideration as a location for disc golf. It had the sponsorship of fellow Ward 4 and 7 Councilors Kaplan, Decelles, and Dober. Other Councilors had expressed concern with language in the original resolution so Councilor Ellis changed language in his resolution to make it more acceptable to other members in an effort to insure passage.

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.

Mark Barlow

Jun 1, 2009

City Council, June 1, 2009

Public Forum, Disc Golf in Leddy Park

Lea Terhune

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