Lines drawn in debate over disc golf at Robin Hill Farm Park —

Lines drawn in debate over disc golf at Robin Hill Farm Park

Diane Urbani de la Paz, Peninsula Daily News, Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AGNEW — Robin Hill Farm, the county park that became a battleground this summer over a planned disc golf course, has sparked a duel between two new groups.

Well, perhaps not quite a duel. It's unlikely that pistols or swords will be drawn.

But the Friends of Robin Hill, a group formed last week, wants to stop disc golf from being played in the park's southwestern corner.

The Clallam County Parks Department has spent months designing an 18-hole disc golf course for that part of Robin Hill.

The course's fairways and "holes" — baskets into which golfers toss a Frisbee-like disc — would take up about 20 of Robin Hill's 195 acres between Dryke and Vautier roads.

But the Friends have begun a campaign of "letters, e-mails, petitions and personal contact," with the parks department, according to a written statement issued by member George Mansfield of Sequim.

"The group believes that, while there may be room in the park for a disc golf course, the location presently proposed by the county would negatively impact the beauty of the park's large, eastern sloping meadow," the statement said.

'Safety conflict'
In the Friends' minds, the flying discs will "create a safety conflict" between golfers and the rest of the park's users: cyclists, birdwatchers, equestrians and others who walk its wooded trails.

Parks supervisor Bruce Giddens, meantime, is forming a study group to recommend changes in the disc golf course design.

"The parks department has contacted some of the people who've written and e-mailed" on this issue, Giddens said Monday, adding that this committee will comprise both opponents and supporters of the disc course.

The group will include some Friends of Robin Hill members; Mansfield said Kathleen Smith and Jack Reagan have been asked to serve.

They will probably push for relocating the 18 holes to a better place, Mansfield said in an interview on Monday. 

That place, he said, is the north side of Robin Hill, where he thinks disc golf wouldn't hurt the eastern meadow or bother the trail riders, dog walkers and bikers.

"I like to go there and bicycle, and I like to sit down in the grass and read a book," Mansfield said. He believes disc golf on the southwest side could disturb his peace.

Busy with the fair
He wants to know who else is on Giddens' panel, but added, "we understand that the parks department is busy with the county fair" and has put disc golf aside for the moment.

The Clallam County Fair will run this Thursday through Sunday at the fairgrounds in Port Angeles, "and then we know [the department staff] will need to catch their breath," Mansfield said. 

Mansfield wants to know soon, however, when the study group will meet.

Giddens said the panel will "probably get together three times," between the end of August and the point sometime in late fall when his department sends a final disc golf course design to the county hearing examiner for a conditional use permit.

Giddens couldn't give a target date for submitting the finished plan.

His hands are full with day-to-day park operations, the forthcoming fair — and the possible acquisition of the Agnew soccer field.

The 7.4-acre swath at Old Olympic Highway and North Barr Road is owned by the Agnew Helpful Neighbors, who want to sell it.

"The parks [department] doesn't want to see the county lose that," Giddens said.

But even if the department wins the grant from the state's Recreation and Conservation Office, it will need to come up with another $200,000 to complete the purchase and permitting process.

Another uproar?
Giddens can only hope the soccer deal won't stir up opponents like disc golf did.

The uproar, which has been escalating since June, is the loudest he's heard over a county park in his eight years with the department.

It's unlikely that the purchase of a soccer field will upset neighbors, since it won't mean a change in land use.

The Storm King Soccer Club has been leasing the field, Giddens said, but since it can't afford to buy it, the county has stepped in.

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