Disc golf may benefit Central Whidbey park | Editorial

A proposal to create a disc golf course in Island County’s Rhododendron Park ran directly into a firestorm of protest before it could be properly aired before the public.

Disc golf is simply people throwing Frisbee-type devises toward hoops on poles. There’s a small version in Oak Harbor’s Fort Nugent Park. Proponents want a full-size course in Rhododendron Park on Central Whidbey.

Environmentalists, organized by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, sent a bushel of protest emails to county officials, alarmed that the disc golf proposal would ruin an old growth forest. The original proposal, submitted by people not familiar with the obtuse speech preferred in government documents, did suggest removing a few trees and installing some concrete pads from which to launch the discs. But talks with county officials led to a tree-cutting ban and a reduction in the number of pads by half.

The environmentalist side didn’t give the proponents a decent chance to make their proposal acceptable. There are some positive things to be said for disc golf. It’s an affordable hobby -- no need for a bagful of expensive clubs and a caddy or electric cart -- and hustling through the woods looking for a plastic disc is good exercise. It might be another good use for a park that is designated for multiple uses.

More importantly, disc golf would increase the number of people using Rhododendron Park, which the county has trouble properly maintaining in the present budget climate. It’s used for teen parties, homeless encampments and other unsavory things.

Disc golfers, perhaps, would volunteer to pick up the trash, keep an eye out for illegal park uses and inform the proper authorities if such uses are discovered. The sound of people having a good time would be a welcome addition to the park, particularly in the fall and winter months when it is seldom used.

At this point, it’s uncertain whether the sport is a proper use for the park and the disc golf club is now looking elsewhere. Should those prospects fail, and Rhododendron Park is once again considered, the county should bring the proponents and opponents together to see if something can be worked out for the benefit of the entire community. It has been shown that reasoning together can work wonders.


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