Two groups came before the St. Clair Park Board Monday night with plans for improvements to Evergreen Park.
Members of the East Central Disc Golf Club gained approval from the board to move forward with plans to improve the course at the park.
Disc golf is an individual sport in which players throw a flying disc, similar to a Frisbee, into a basket or at a target, or basket. The basket is made of vertical chains that the disc must go through to get into the basket. The object of the game is to complete the course using the fewest number of throws.
“It’s gotten big,” said John Dykhuizen, spokesman for the club. “We have so many people playing that you have to park at the old pool parking lot.”
The club wants to put a set of stairs on the hill near that parking lot to allow easier access to the course.
“There’s no way to get down that hill safely,” Dykhuizen said. “(A member’s) son has fallen down into the road a couple of times and people down there don’t really go the speed limit. The steps will make the park safer.”
Pioneer Pests has committed to donating materials for the steps and the club members will provide the labor at no cost to the city. The club also will pay for pedestrian signs and paint for the crosswalk.
“It’s going to be 8-foot slabs with a handrail down the middle,” Dykhuizen said. “And then our ladies auxiliary will plant flower beds alongside of (the stairs) and also will take care of the other flower bed that’s up on the hill.”
The only thing the disc golf club would need from the city would be permission to shut down the road for about one-half hour while crews pour the concrete slabs and paint the lines for the crosswalk.
“As soon as we get the go-ahead, we’re ready to roll with the project,” Dykhuizen said.
The park board voted unanimously to allow the club to move forward with its plans to the board of aldermen at the Monday, Dec. 5, meeting.
“It’s just going to improve the park,” Park Board President Karen McGlenn said.
The disc golf club has already made some improvements to the course and the park itself.
“We put in a new footbridge at the top of the disc golf course where that old one was,” Dykhuizen said, “so the old one can come out now.”
Although the budget for next year has not been approved and made official, the park board is asking for funds to add another nine holes to the course that would allow more tournament play.
“If we do get another nine holes, Gateway Disc Golf up in the city said it would come down and promote and put on a big tournament,” Dykhuizen said. “The owner came down and played our course and he said he loves it. He said it’s one of the nicest courses he has ever played.”
People from neighboring communities often use the course, Dykhuizen added.
Other Improvements At Evergreen
Doug Thurman, who coaches Junior Dog football and recreational baseball teams in the area, brought a proposal to the board to make improvements to the ball fields at Evergreen Park.
“I’m starting a 9U baseball team,” he said. “It’s for some kids who rec ball isn’t really doing anything for them anymore.”
The 9U team would be for children ages 9 and under who are looking for more challenging games. It would be part of the St. Clair Warriors Baseball Club. Thurman said as the league progresses, he would like to add more age groups to the program.
Thurman said 9U baseball is an elite program that is more competitive than recreational baseball.
“It’s part of a little plan I’ve had to make for better sports in St. Clair,” he said. “These are kids who are a little too talented for rec ball.”
Thurman said girls softball teams also would be welcome to join the league.
To hold tournaments, Thurman said he would need the field at Evergreen Park because there wouldn’t be enough room to accommodate the number of teams at the Iron Hill fields.
“As you guys probably know, the field (at Evergreen) is in disarray,” he said. “I would be willing to do some of the work to make it look better. At Iron Hill there’s no room for tournament teams to play their games like I would need. And over at Orchard Park they are booked all the time.”
The Evergreen field would need lights and the field itself needs to be plowed and new dirt added. He added that there are thousands of grants available online and he plans to apply for some, but probably wouldn’t get approved until next year.
“It needs to be made playable,” he said.
With grant money, Thurman said a concession stand might be a possibility eventually, but he said he could sell food and drinks out of coolers the first year.
Money generated from tournaments at the park could be used to make other improvements there.
“That money could go back into the field,” he said.
The board said they would be in support of Thurman’s proposal and recommended he take it to the board of aldermen.
“I would like to see Evergreen be more than just a spray park and a trail,” McGlenn said. “We’ll do all we can (to support the improvements), but a lot of times it comes down to money. Obviously, we would have to start small.”