Austin disc golfers upset about course’s permanent removal from Pease Park
By Julie Chang
February 27, 2014
Some Austin disc golfers are outraged with a city recommendation to exclude a course from a plan to revamp Pease Park, after they said officials promised them one.
Members of area disc groups, including the Waterloo and Austin Deaf disc golf clubs and the University of Texas team, attended a public input meeting for the park’s master plan Thursday night. Many were upset that the presentation for the park, which runs along Shoal Creek between 31st and 15th streets, did not include a disc golf course. Disc golfers said they were told in 2010 that the course would be removed temporarily to allow the ground to recover before the park would embark on a city restoration project.
“It’s disappointing that they won’t even consider it,” said Michael Pollei.
The game involves throwing Frisbee-like discs into a series of baskets, much as golfers hit balls into greens. The Pease Park course was made up of 18 holes along Shoal Creek.
The parks department said the course is not a sustainable use of the park, suggesting that the game had contributed to wear and tear along the creek banks. The parks department and the Pease Park Conservancy are almost done creating the master plan for the park that aims to make improvements to trails and add amenities over several years. The Watershed Protection Department has also planned its own $5 million project in the park that will include stabilizing the creek banks to stop erosion, reviving soils, removing invasive plants and planting trees and vegetation.
“The department has looked at this issue and removed disc golf as a recreational amenity two years ago,” parks department project coordinator Kim McKnight told disc golfers Thursday night. “I wanted to be clear about the department’s position.”
McKnight said the parks department has tried to mollify the disc golfers by installing a course at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park in Southeast Austin and improvements to a few of the four other courses in the city.
Gordon Maxim-Kelley, president of the Waterloo club, said the parks department broke a promise even though the game helped make Pease Park safer when the course was installed in 1989. He and fellow board member of the Waterloo club Troy Herman said they’ve contacted various experts within the city to ask for their opinion and were told that the course would be sustainable.
“So now it is 22 years later, and we still have the same number of disc golf courses in our city parks despite the explosion of the popularity of the game,” Maxim-Kelley said.
Disc golfers will have opportunities to appeal the parks department’s recommendation when the master plan is reviewed parks department board and City Council.
The consultants hired to create the master plan suggested additional bathrooms, storage and picnic areas, art installations, restoration of historical structures and widening of trails among other improvements to the park.