The future of Chanute’s disc golf course, and its potential to bring in tourism, came up for debate Wednesday evening before the Chanute Recreation Commission.
Commission members Derek Sharp, Lance Burnett and Phil Jacobs voted Wednesday evening to maintain nine fairways and discussed options for the course, including shortening it or having 18 basket goals on nine fairways. Board members Jon Burchett and Betsy Olson were not present Wednesday.
Facilities Director Bill Myers, who is nearing retirement, presented cost and revenue information to the board about the course at the Lakeview Recreation Area on the south end of Santa Fe Park. Part of the annual mowing costs include grass mower replacement, spread out over the life of the equipment, and a bare-bones price tag for the disc golf course would be $6,700 to $7,000 a year, he said.
The CRC put up voluntary fee boxes in mid-July and the CRC hoped to cover one-third of the cost through user fees, Myers said. CRC members also said they thought it would indicate how many people used the course.
“We were hoping that would show commitment and support,” CRC Director Monica Colborn said.
But by Dec. 31, only $222 had been collected in the boxes.
“We can’t do it the way we’re doing it right now,” Myers said. “We can do it if we just put more money to it.”
Brady Taylor, member of a local disc golfing group, met with the board to present proceeds from the Mojo Open tournament held Oct. 30. The tournament attracted 40 golfers along with other fundraising activities and Taylor presented $442.
Taylor brought up the local economic benefit of out-of-town tournament participants as a potential talking point to the Chanute city commission.
Local disc golfers have also offered to do voluntary mowing and repair at the course to reduce maintenance costs, but that was declined because of liability insurance reasons.
“I understand,” Taylor said. “It’s trying to get everybody else to understand.”
A tournament could attract about 90 participants, Taylor said, but the Mojo Open was low because another community scheduled a tournament the same weekend and Chanute cancelled an earlier tournament.
The other tournament had a shorter course, Taylor said, and people like to play shorter courses that are friendlier to beginners.
Chanute’s course is more of a championship level and it is difficult to organize activities for local beginners, Colborn said.
“We have a professional course sitting out there we can’t program,” she said.
Emporia has an upper-level disc golf course, but it is more sustainable because of the university students who use it and a local disc golf company, Taylor said.
Recreation organizations can be supported by either school districts or cities as taxing entities. Like a majority of rec commissions, CRC is supported by the school district, Colborn said.
But the CRC cannot own property and schedules soccer and baseball games on fields owned by the city of Chanute and maintained through agreements. The city maintains the walking path through the disc golf course, although the path has a sign for the CRC, and some local users see the disc golf course as similar to the city-maintained parks.
“You can’t put a number on quality of life,” Colborn said, adding that they also have to be fiscally responsible with finite resources and labor.
In other business, the CRC heard a report on the 2020-21 audit from Kyle Spielbusch of the accounting firm Jarred, Gilmore & Phillips. He said it was a good audit overall.