Amherst to add disc golf

AMHERST – It isn’t golf and it isn’t Frisbee; it’s a hybrid sport, and it’s coming to Amherst.

The head of the Recreation Department was at a recent Planning Board meeting to show plans for a disc golf course in a new town park.

The 22-acre park, at 11-13 Baboosic Lake Road, already has a sand-dune pump track for bicycles.

Pump track and disc golf, Craig Fraley said, are part of efforts to offer more recreation choices for all ages.

“We’re not just a youth service,” he said.

The department is trying to create activities for 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds “and everyone in between,” Fraley said.

Hiking is another activity, and there is a potential to connect to the new Joshua’s Park on Courthouse Road and a nearby trailhead, he said.

Disc golf is like traditional golf, except players use flying discs and try to toss them into metal baskets. Trees and shrubs provide challenges, the way water and sand traps do in golf. It’s a year-round sport, and people can play in snowshoes, Fraley said.

The purpose of the pump track, Fraley said, is fitness, fun and skill building. It was built last year, and itprovides a continuous loop for bike riding without pedaling.

When the town lost the Cemetery Fields recreation area, the future site of the Forest View Cemetery, it lost a spot for people to learn how to ride bikes, he said.

The Amherst track is popular, he said.

“There were a lot of smiling faces at the track right up until the snow fell,” Fraley said.

He explained to the board some of the renovations needed to the park, including tree thinning and moving the driveway west of the current entrance for safer access. There will be a 50-foot buffer between nearby neighboring properties so discs don’t fly into people’s yards.

The park property is owned by the Amherst School District. Board members said it would be good to eventually have boardwalks over the wetlands and signs to educate people about the value of wetlands.

The park will have port-a-potties and open hours from dawn to dusk. There will also be access for DPW trucks and police vehicles.

In answer to questions from a neighbor across Baboosic Lake Road, Fraley said there are no plans for lights or for a turning lane into the park, and there’s no expectation that a lot of people would use it at one time.

“It’s not like soccer, with 70 people pulling out” of a driveway, he said.

There have been no issues with thefts, Fraley said, adding, “The maintenance guys haven’t picked up one” piece of trash.

“Users are from all over,” he said, “and they are courteous and concerned with keeping it.”

Thinning the old dying pine trees, he said, would provide an environment for hardwood trees to thrive, as well.

There is no requirement for town departments to get Planning Board approval; the Recreation Department was there as a courtesy and to get input.

The park is being funded by user fees from the Recreation Department’s revolving fund, Fraley said.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.