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No disc golf for Evergreen Park; grant to be returned

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Ross Township commissioners dashed dreams of disc golf for Evergreen Community Park but plan to find another location for a course in the township.

Commissioners voted March 17 to take the first step to return $15,500 of a $72,350 grant from the state's Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund that would have funded the installation of a disc golf course in the park. They asked Eloise Peet, the township's parks and recreation director, to look for a new location.

“I'm very happy that disc golf is on the radar screen,” Peet said. “I think we'll get a way better place.”

Disc golf is similar to traditional golf, except that players use flying discs instead of balls.

Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer made the motion to remove the disc golf funding from the grant because residents who live near the park were worried about litter and the impact on soil there, along with potential parking, noise and vandalism problems and the hazard of flying discs.

“(Evergreen Community Park) is a natural gem,” said Robert Fenk, 84, who lives 35 feet from the park. “It was an inappropriate proposal, and I'm pleased with the result.”

Peet said she thinks the remaining $56,850, which will fund trail and parking improvements, will remain intact. Ross will match the grant for a total project budget of $113,700.

Commissioners voted 8-1, with Commissioner David Mikec dissenting, to write a letter to the state asking to remove the disc golf portion of the grant.

“There is not another park that this will fit in,” Mikec said. “I think this is our one shot.”

The $15,500 portion of the grant, which would have been matched by the township for a total project budget of $31,000, could be used for another trail-related project at Evergreen, Peet said, though there currently are no plans to use the money. The disc golf course would have been installed along the trail.

Steve Kratz, communications director for the state's Department of Community and Economic Development, said changing the terms of state grants is not unusual, and that sometimes involves returning money.

“Organizations will have plans that may not be feasible and they may not follow through on. So they change the scope or even the amount of the grant,” Kratz said.

At a Feb. 20 community meeting about the course, Paul Harkins, the Ross resident who proposed putting a course in the township, said disc golfers diligently maintain the courses they use, and other courses throughout the area are “spotless.”

“A lot of disc golfers are adamant about picking up trash,” Harkins said.

Shaffer, commissioner for the 8th Ward, where the park is located, said Evergreen's topography and shape make it a bad location for disc golf, but he's not against the game in general.

“I would like to see a disc golf course in Ross Township,” Shaffer said.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or kshea@tribweb.com.

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