BAXTER — Disc golf at Whipple Beach park is a subject that will now go before the people.
Tuesday, the Baxter City Council approved a 6 p.m. June 14 public information meeting at city hall to get feedback from Whipple Beach neighborhood residents and other member of the public.
“Before we do anything with this park we need to do that,” said Bill Deblon, community development director.
Disc golf utilizes a Frisbee-like disc for its play. The issue has been before the city council repeatedly with council members both in favor and those with reservations about dedicating so much land to the disc golf proposal and about having it on the land closest to the lake.
The city’s parks commission on April 23 voted 4-0 to recommend the city approve the disc golf on the 11 remaining undeveloped land at Whipple Beach Park.
In one disc golf layout option, city staff reported there appear to be conflicts for a future pavilion, future sand volleyball courts and future basketball and tennis courts, along with parking lot expansion.
Deblon said in the past, the council has conducted a public meeting before moving forward. The city has not determined what the cost would be to develop the city or maintain it. Organizers of the disc golf proposal said they would use volunteer labor and clear out dead trees for the nine-hole course.
Chris Beyer, Baxter, a proponent of the disc golf course, thanked the park commission and staff for helping them through the process to build a space for residents. Beyer said with the cleanup work, the wooded space with disc golf and a trail would be enjoyable and accessible for Baxter residents.
Council member Rob Moser questioned if the course could be shortened to four or five holes and retain the western third of the land for other uses. Beyer said that could work but it the course was too short it may not be useful and used.
“This is the best place for it,” Council member Jim Klein said of the course. Klein moved to approve the course and set a public hearing before the proposal would come back to the city for a final vote. Council member Mark Cross seconded the motion.
Council member Todd Holman said he wouldn’t support the motion. Holman said by approving the plan before the public hearing, it implies the council has made a decision before getting the resident feedback it said it wanted. Holman added the course could be smaller and not go into the western one-third of the land as the council previously suggested. And Holman said it would be good to have more than one plan to show people at the public hearing.
At the public hearing, Holman said they can see if anyone shares his concerns about the space or not.
Klein and Cross withdrew their motion.
Mayor Darrel Olson said this park remains the crown jewel to him.
“I just like it the way it is,” Olson said, but added he was supportive of bringing people in and getting their thoughts at the June meeting.