Waveny Disc Golf Course
The town should consider helping more with upkeep for an increasingly popular facility in Waveny Park, officials say.
The volunteers who created and maintain the Waveny Disc Golf Course on the west side of Lapham Road have taken care of mowing, brush-cutting, fallen tree-clearing and tee and trail maintenance since its inception in 2007, according to Parks & Recreation Commissioner Carl Mason. They also increased the number of holes on the free public course from 12 to the standard 18 last year, he said.
“I think we need to start thinking about what it would take for the Parks Department to take care of some of the maintenance here,” Mason told fellow commissioners during their regular meeting, held Sept. 8 via videoconference. “I think 14 years in, it’s still popular, it’s proven itself and it’s a valuable asset. There is still an awful lot of interest in disc golf. And through COVID it has been a great outdoors activity.”
The comments came during a presentation on the disc golf course from Mason to the full Commission, and about six months after those who created it—Tim Smith, Tony Ferrera, Chris Scofield and Mickey Stamans—gave an overview of the facility’s history, use, progress and goals.
The town has worked with and supported the volunteers’ efforts in the past, Mason said—for example, the Parks Department did some of the “heavy lifting” in terms of clearing trees in order to create the course, as well as bringing in the tree warden to identify problem areas. It isn’t clear what additional town resources would be required in terms of funding and manpower in order to do the kind of maintenance the volunteers are seeking, parks officials said. Back when the course was approved, the town was to address emerging concerns, not for ongoing maintenance, Parks Superintendent John Howe said.
Part of the challenge of maintaining the area where the course is located—formerly used by Darien’s Ox Ridge Riding Club for equestrian trails—is that it’s difficult for heavy equipment to access, officials said.
Members of the Commission said it would help to have a clear understanding of how the volunteers envisioned divvying up their own responsibilities with respect to upkeep versus what would be required of the town.
Mason agreed, saying, “The volunteers are still open to being involved. I think they are just looking for a bit of a helping hand with that and maybe a good delineation between the two areas of responsibility would help going forward.”
Like other municipal agencies, the Parks Department budget typically starts to take shape in the weeks before it’s presented to the Board of Selectmen in January.
Chair Rona Siegel asked how hard it is to track the number of users on the course and whether something like a QR Code could be used in order to help with that effort. Town officials have said in the past that they can track use by the number of map/scorecard printouts that are taken from a station near the first tee. Smith, a guest at the meeting, added that players can check in and keep score by using the UDisc mobile app.
Smith said that the volunteers have walked the course property in the past with municipal inland wetlands officials in order to ensure they’re not running afoul of environmental laws, and can do that again with the trial expansion that started in 2020.
Asked about use of the course by Commissioner Francesca Segalas, Smith said that foot traffic increased when the facility was expanded to 18 holes, and he added that dog-walkers and mountain bikers also have used the course with no issues.
In addition to the maintenance work, requests from the volunteers include signage for dog-owners to remember to pick up after their pets and a course map similar to the new ones that the Waveny Park Conservancy helped create for the main park, as well as programming such as tournaments, classes and camps, Mason said in his presentation.
An interesting note….I remember when a group was attempting to put a dog park in that part of the Waveny property. There was quite a bit of pushback about any kind of development of that area. Some involving the displacement of wildlife, the value of the land, the future of that parcel of land, the effects of people and dogs in one of the “last” undeveloped areas etc. etc. etc. I am guessing most people in New Canaan have no idea that an 18 hole Frisbee golf course has been created on that land with little, if any, public outcry.
The article is saying in 2007 the course was put in by volunteers with a small amount of assistance from the Town. A long time ago, the area was an equine facility and there were various trails, roads, and small clearings in the woods as well as openings among trees. I don’t play the sport, but I frequently walk the trails and enjoy the wildlife. The individuals play between the trees – and that is part of the sport. It is not like a golf course where you play in openings. For fourteen years this group of volunteers has maintained not just the course, but also the network of trails that are frequented by walkers, dog walkers, and mountain bikers. The popularity of the area has picked up over the years both for walkers and disc golf players and the group was just asking for some help maintaining the course and the walking trails. This group of volunteers should be commended. Most public-private partnerships in Town just deal with raising funds. I don’t know of any that raise the funds and then provide all of the elbow grease to maintain it for fourteen years.