By Jesse Wood
A proposal for a private funded disc golf course on a vacant piece of state-owned property behind the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on Hodges Gap Road failed unanimously as residents in that area voiced objections to the potential negative impacts such a course would have on their neighborhood.
For this proposal to move forward the county would have had to enter into a lease agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners voted on the matter on Tuesday morning with all board members agreeing that a disc golf course would be better suited within current recreation infrastructure at the Boone Greenway or the ASU sports complex off of State Farm Road.
Richard Rosenfeld, who is a graduate of Appalachian State University and an outdoor-recreation advocate, drafted a letter in April to the commissioners stating that he was willing to fund the construction of a public golf course and maintain it for five years.
“For the past 17 years I have been working in commercial real estate in the wireless industry, and playing disc golf twice a week for many of those years. Recently, I was fortunate enough to sell several of the assets I owned and now have the desire and financial means to give back to my community,” Rosenfeld wrote.
After searching numerous public lands in the county, Rosenfeld came to the conclusion that the land owned by the N.C. Department of Transportation was the “only” suitable land that he found.
Rosenfeld was expected to be present to attend the meeting and present to the commissioners, however he was absent.
Three residents – Charles Walker, Trudy Moss and Bryce Osborne – who live in the area spoke against a disc golf course in their community, and one of the residents cited a petition, also opposing the proposal, that had 60 signatures.
Moss mentioned that if this proposal moved forward that it would “allow unmonitored” access to residential, business, utility and government agency properties in the vicinity.
Moss asked if a police officer would be stationed along the 50 acres of land where the course would be situated. She mentioned that young adolescent men comprise of the main demographic that play the sport and that “illegal and delinquent” activity could occur without supervision.
“I don’t think this is the most appropriate location for this particular sport,” Moss said
She added that if it was located within a larger recreation complex that wasn’t off the beaten path – like the course in Ashe County – then more “self monitoring” would occur.
The commissioners agreed.
“This could be a good thing in the right setting and right location,” Commissioner Perry Yates said. “But it is in the wrong location, and the people in the neighborhood don’t deserve this.”
The commissioners suggested that Rosenfeld and county staff collaborate regarding a future disc golf course located along town, county or ASU owned property where recreation infrastructure is already established such as the greenway, off of State Farm Road or the Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park.
Chair Jimmy Hodges also noted concerns about the N.C. Department of Transportation owning the land because of restrictions would be required in the event that the state identified a need to use the property in the future.