Council votes down Lloyd Square disc golf course

Hunter Herbaugh
Sunday, February 21, 2021

After giving the topic some critical discussion, the Glendive City Council voted not to approve installing a new disc golf course as it was proposed during their meeting on Tuesday night. The general consensus seemed to be that everyone was in favor of the idea of adding the course but were not in favor of the proposed location.

The addition of the course in Lloyd Square Park was proposed in October by Joe Varriano, a member of the Dawson County High School class of 1980. In presenting the proposal to the council, Varriano said the Class of ‘80 wanted to use some of the extra funds they had to give back to the city and thought a disc golf course would be a worthwhile addition.

Specifically among the reasonscited by council members that voted against the approval of the course was the concern that there isn’t enough space in the park for a ninebasket course.

“That park is busy. It is by far the busiest park we have in Glendive and that green space, even though there’s nothing there, it gets used,” said councilman Gerald Reichert. As a member of the city’s Finance, Utility, Property and Recreation Committee, Reichert has been involved with the discussion of the proposed course since it was first brought up. During every discussion thus far, he has continued citing the possible overloading of the park as a point of concern. He noted that even in his one-on-one conversations with local residents, the response he received the most was skepticism of the location.

“I applaud the folks who brought this forward. They’re being very progressive about Glendive, they’re taking an interest. I’m just very uncomfortable trying to fit any more into that park, another activity, and that’s my sole reason,” he said.

Per a request from the FUPR committee, Varriano and others advocating for the course did consider other parks for the course, but Lloyd Square was the only one within city limits that they determined had the space to adequately establish a course. They do believe Gregg Park in Forest Park would also be a suitable location but they preferred Lloyd Square due to its central location.

Local garden club members expressed their concerns about the proposed course to the council. They noted two baskets in particular which they felt got too close to their garden in the park. They felt as though the chances of stray discs flying into the garden and damaging foliage, as well as the risk for potential damage to be caused by kids going into the garden to retrieve their discs, was particularly high.

“(The garden) is very precious to our club. We don’t want it wrecked and destroyed by kids trampling all over,” said club president Diane Leath.

“It’s not that they mean to do it but they’re not thinking, and they’re going to go in there and all the work we’ve done over the years is just going to be destroyed,” added club member Cindi Byron.

Councilman Mike Dryden also noted he was critical of the proposed course for the same reasons as Reichert, noting the lack of boundaries that meant the course could easily interfere with other peoples’ enjoyment of the park. He also noted he felt the original intent for the course had been strayed from, as it was pitched as an easy course for beginning players but its advocates then also started saying it needed to meet certain criteria to be put on a map to attract tourists.

Councilwoman Betsy Hedrick noted that her opposition to installing the course stemmed from her support for the basketball court that is in the park. The court has fallen into a state of disrepair and Hedrick expressed her worry that committing to the disc golf course would mean further neglecting the basketball court. This was a point Reichert made as well, saying he felt the council had failed the court by letting it deteriorate.

“I would like to see the FUPR committee come up with a good plan for that basketball court, it’s been many years, and I’m not for tearing that out for a new activity. I feel like it would be used by the high schoolers and many of the neighborhood kids,” Hedrick said.

The proposed course plan did not include removing the court but Hedrick’s main concern was that it would be further neglected.

“My feeling is that we have not maintained that basketball court... I think we need to maintain what we have,” she added.

Councilman Doug Baker however, spoke in favor of implementing the course, noting that passing it as proposed would include a oneyear probationary period, so it might be worth giving it a shot.

“I guess I’d come at this a different way. If it’s a oneyear trial deal, let’s say we do it, maybe there’s a whole list of complaints, we got to scrap it. Maybe it goes well,” he said.

Discussion on the matter stopped when councilwoman Avis Anderson called the question and a majority of the council members said they were ready to move to a vote on the motion. The proposed course was not passed, failing in a 6-1 vote. Baker was the only council member that voted in favor, councilman Rhett Coon was absent.

However, while the proposed course failed, the council did signal that they would be open to revisiting the issue and make changes, including reducing the number of baskets for the course.

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“That park is busy. It is by far the busiest park we have in Glendive and that green space, even though there’s nothing there, it gets used,”

Gerald Reichert, City Councilman