Breezy Point City Council sends disc golf project to Parks and Rec for review
The council will revisit the issue in June
BREEZY POINT — The saga of the Breezy Point disc golf course expansion continues.
In its Monday, April 3, meeting, the Breezy Point City Council voted 3-2 to send the issue of expansion back to the Parks and Recreation Committee to review if an expansion of the disc golf course is still the best use of the land, along with alternative uses for that property.
The council also voted to simultaneously have staff work with adjacent property owners on possible solutions to potential issues involving their property specifically — and properly notify those property owners that these talks are happening.
Those would then be presented to the council at its June meeting.
Council members Brad Scott and Rebecca Ball voted against the measures, as Scott stated he would rather see the expansion project “go away” and Ball expressed a desire to come to a decision that night.
“I don’t agree with sending it back to Parks and Rec to just rehash everything that has already been discussed,” Ball said. “The city council is going to have to make a decision. We should make a decision today. We have had months to look at it and think about it.”
An 18-hole expansion was recommended by the Parks and Recreation Committee and budgeted for in 2022, with an expected cost of $85,000.
City officials said 95% of construction on the expansion was completed in 2022 by public works staff, but labor was not included in the budget.
With just a few final touches left on construction, $49,755.57 has been spent on the project, with remaining costs estimated to be roughly $6,000, meaning the project is roughly $29,000 under budget.
Owners of property adjacent to the course have taken umbrage with a lack of communication surrounding the project, particularly that it seemed the city proceeded with the expansion despite the council never voting for that to happen, as well as that residents were not warned the project was taking place before trees were cut down.
With regard to the first issue, City Administrator David Chanski said the measure was voted on as part of the 2022 budget at the council’s December 2021 meeting, based on the recommendations of the Parks and Recreation Committee.
“Did the council take a specific vote, and was there an item on the agenda that said ‘Disc Golf Course — Confirm or Deny?’ No there wasn’t,” Chanski told the council and the nearly 60 individuals in attendance.
“How this project got approved is that it was a project included in the 2022 budget that was considered by the city council on Dec. 6, 2021," he said. "At that time, per statute, a public hearing was held and the budget was worked through … That is not an improper manner to approve projects.
"Honestly, in the many cities I have worked for, that is not an uncommon practice," Chanksi said.
Since Jan. 1, city staff has received 36 emails regarding the disc golf course — 11 from residents, 22 from nonresidents, and staff could not determine the residency status for the remaining three.
All but three emails expressed support for the disc golf course. Those three emails came from residents, meaning of the residents who sent emails, 73% supported the disc golf expansion and 27% did not support it based on limited digital responses.
The council did also receive two petitions, one at the February city council meeting and one prior to the March city council meeting, calling for the disc golf course expansion to be discontinued.
At one point in Monday's meeting, Mayor Angel Zierden asked residents in attendance in support of the expansion to raise their hands, then residents opposing the expansion to do likewise. A similar number raised their hands each time.
In its February meeting, the council instructed staff to research the costs of returning the expansion area to its “natural state.” Staff estimates that it could be done for roughly $3,664, excluding labor, which would be done by the public works staff.
However, a forester with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told the city that a best-case scenario would see roughly half of planted pine and oak seedlings survive.
If planting seedlings is unsuccessful, raspberry and hazelnut thickets could potentially develop and persist, and Breezy Points’ sandy soil means washouts are possible on inclines.
The forester said a realistic timeframe for forest regeneration is 50 to 74 years.
Scott made a motion to instruct the city to spend that amount and restore the expansion area to a natural state, but the motion failed as no other council member would second.
Zierden asked for public comment during the meeting, but asked that members of the public — particularly property owners of adjacent lots — come forward with solutions and alternative ideas for the project as opposed to complaints.
Several individuals rose to speak, bringing forward ideas like removing some holes from the expansion to back holes and tee boxes away from certain property.
Some also brought up the idea of using that property for activities other than disc golf — perhaps adding a basketball or pickleball court to bring those interested in different sports to the area.
Chanski reminded the council and public that the project is “about 95% done.” All that is left to do is place the hole baskets, which have already been purchased, and grate the parking area one more time.
Asked in a previous meeting to abstain from voting on the project due to his support of it, council member Michael Moroni instead asked his fellow council members to vote on whether he should be allowed to vote on the matter.
The council voted 3-1 (with Moroni abstaining) to allow him to vote. Scott voted against the measure, citing a "perception of a conflict."
A letter to Chanski from Police Sgt. Josef Garcia said the police department has responded to nine calls for police service relating to the course in the past eight years.
Of those nine calls, two pertained to driving conduct, two involved items found on the course and the remaining calls were single instances of an ATV on the course, an individual sleeping in a vehicle in the parking lot after hours, a vehicle parked for an extended time, a lost pedestrian and a fire that turned out to be a controlled burn.
In other action Monday, the council:
- Approved the Breezy Point Airport’s use of city folding tables and chairs for Aviation Days on Saturday, May 6, and agreed to close Airport Road during the event.
- Approved a request for proposal for a city health insurance broker. Chanski said the current broker — A.T. Group of Minneapolis — has provided “satisfactory service” for many years, but it is a good practice to go back out to the market every five years or so.
“We have no complaints, but haven’t done this for a while," he said.
- Agreed not to waive the city’s statutory tort liability limits for 2023. This decision is made annually by the council.
In March, the Breezy Point Police Department responded to 211 incidents, an increase of 18 from March 2022. Among the incidents were 106 traffic stops, five traffic arrests and one crash.
Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.