A trails system may not be the only upcoming addition to Wallace Park, as city officials are considering a proposal to install a disc golf course at the popular Paola recreational area.
Paola resident Andrew Chapman, who is president of the newly formed Miola Disc Golf Association, gave a presentation during the Aug. 6 Paola City Council work session asking city leaders to help the association get the course started.
Disc golf is played using flying discs, which are thrown at targets that represent the 18 holes of a golf course. Instead of trying to get a golf ball into a hole, the goal of disc golf is to see how many throws it takes to get the flying disc to hit the chains attached to each pole and drop into a metal basket.
Chapman said it would cost $7,346.34 to construct an 18-hole course, with each hole featuring four different possible pin locations. That would allow it to be registered as a professional course, where tournaments could be hosted, Chapman said.
Each of the 54 possible pin locations would be level with the ground and covered with irrigation caps when not being utilized, and the poles could be removed as needed.
“It would look like it was never there,” Chapman said.
There was some discussion about creating tee areas for each hole, possibly featuring containers for trash and limestone screenings left over from the planned construction of Paola Pathways trails.
Chapman said he wants to work together with the trails group, and he is confident both amenities can coexist. He did say he would like to install the disc golf course before or at the same time as the trails to ensure there is adequate space between the trails and any pin locations or tee boxes.
City Councilman Jim Pritchard, who is also on the Paola Pathways committee, said that may be difficult as the trails group would like to get started on the trails next month. Pritchard said he liked the idea of the disc golf course, but he raised a few concerns, including the safety of walking pedestrians and the suggested elimination of some of the underbrush and shrubbery in wooded areas of the park to make room for some disc golf holes.
Chapman said no mature trees would be removed, because challenging obstacles are a positive thing for the course, and the removal of underbrush will be minimal and would not take away from the nature-theme of the trails. He also said disc golf participants are very courteous of pedestrians, and they can actually help monitor parts of the park that may otherwise be subject to vandalism or other unlawful activity.
“I know as a kid growing up in this town, that park is under-utilized,” Chapman said. “Disc golf has a way of utilizing the whole park.”
Chapman asked the city to pay for the initial course as an investment, and the members of the Miola Disc Golf Association would maintain the course and help organize tournaments. Chapman said it likely wouldn’t take the city long to get a return on its investment because the group would ensure that the city would get a portion of the tournament registration fees.
City Manager Jay Wieland said he recently spoke to Emporia officials, who said a five-day disc golf tournament in their city attracted about 500 people, which benefited local hotels and restaurants.
“I think it’d be a great addition to the community, and I think it’s a great fit for the park,” Wieland said.
No official decision could be made at the meeting, but Chapman said he would meet with members of the Paola Pathways group to work out the details and share information.
“Anybody can play this sport,” Chapman said. “We just have to have a course.”
In other business during the Aug. 6 work session, the council members listened to Human Resources Director Vicki Belt talk about planned changes to the employee health care coverage beginning Sept. 1.
The planned change to a $3,000 base PPO plan would result in an increased cost per pay period for employees ranging from $3.12 per paycheck for a single employee to $9.51 per paycheck for a full family plan.