A long, pointless process

After giving disc golfers the boot, the council needs to find a new site—soon

Chico City Council members made a tough decision Tuesday night (Nov. 18), when they decided, on a 4-3 vote, to prohibit disc golfers from continuing to use the courses in Upper Park that they have been using for 19 years (see Newslines). We don’t agree with the decision, but there were compelling arguments on both sides of the issue.

Clearly, though, the process has been a disaster. The golfers built the courses on the bluff overlooking Upper Park well before the city even owned the land. They did so because efforts to find a site in town, and get city approval, had been unsuccessful. Early on, nobody seemed concerned about the site, even after it was added to Upper Park. At one point, the council went so far as to authorize more than $200,000 to study how to build environmentally sustainable courses there.

However, faced with the possibility of a lawsuit from environmentalists who suddenly became concerned about the site in 2003, nearly 15 years after the courses’ creation, the council backed off on the study and put the site on hold. The council did tell disc golfers they could continue to use the courses, but it forbade them from improving or even maintaining them until the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan update was completed—a full five years later, as it turned out. In the meantime, conditions on the site worsened.

Now, after spending tens of thousands of dollars to hire an expert to design environmentally sustainable courses, the council has decided to close the site altogether. Seems like a big waste of money to us. Right now, though, the problem is that a lot of people have adopted disc golf as a sport and are using the site. As Councilman Larry Wahl asked at Tuesday’s meeting, “Where are these thousands of people supposed to go?”

Andy Holcombe, who voted against the courses in his final meeting as mayor, pledged to establish a golf course elsewhere. We hope disc golfers hold his feet to the fire. It’s now his responsibility to take a leadership role on this issue and make sure a disc-golf site is located and construction has begun within … oh, let’s give him a year. That should be enough time. It’s the least the council can do for all those people it and its predecessor councils have subjected to this long, expensive and pointless process.