Local Group to Present Passaic County Freeholders with New Location for Proposed Disc Golf Course

Save Rifle Camp Park Coalition

(973) 760-9373

http://saveRCP.org

savercp@savercp.org

 

9/25/2017

 

Save Rifle Camp Park Coalition

Media Contact: Ann Schnakenberg

ann@softprose.com  (973) 760-9373

 

*** PRESS ADVISORY ***

 

Local Group to Present Passaic County Freeholders with New Location for Proposed Disc Golf Course

 

The Save Rifle Camp Park Coalition will announce to the Freeholders a plan to move the proposed Disc Golf Course to the single largest county park in Lower Passaic County. The new location is the Preakness Valley Golf Course, 209 Totowa Rd, Wayne, NJ, with 377 acres dedicated to sports.

The disc golf community recommends installing new disc golf courses on the border areas of traditional golf courses. Passaic County operates TWO golf courses in this huge park. We strongly encourage the Passaic County Freeholders to accept this recommendation. Installation of the new disc golf course could begin immediately, and would have real benefits for disc golfers.

 

This plan was first unveiled at our Press Conference, held at Passaic County’s abandoned Nature Center and Observatory at Rifle Camp Park on Thursday, September 21st, at 1:00PM. Our Media Kit about this conference is available on our website in our Media Resources section, at http://savercp.org/media/

 

PRO AND CON ARGUMENTS:

 

* PRO: Why the Disc Golf Course belongs at Passaic County’s Preakness Valley Golf Course

 

There is convenient access by local transit.

(Bus) https://www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T1196.pdf

 

The site is fully landscaped, and disc golf can be installed immediately. The course could be cleaned and kept neat by the same staff that already maintains the golf course. Disc golf requires no specific landscaping and can be set up in any cleared area. http://www.preaknessvalleygolf.com/

 

There is already a fully staffed Pro Shop. Kiosk packages for disc golf paraphernalia are available to serve disc golfers alongside regular golf patrons. http://www.stevewestdiscgolf.com/DiscGolf.pdf

 

The site includes a restaurant and bar, which can make going there pleasant and desirable.

http://www.preaknessvalleygolf.com/barandgrill/

 

Restrooms, cart rental, and other facilities already exist. http://www.preaknessvalleygolf.com/aboutus/facilities/

 

Pedestrians and hikers are not allowed on the golf course, which is also a restriction on an active disc golf course. Passers-by wandering onto the disc golf course will not be a problem.

http://nynjctbotany.org/njnbtofc/preaknes.html

 

The installation of a disc golf course on the outskirts of an existing golf course is considered a desirable use of otherwise unused land, and many guides can be found detailing this configuration.

https://www.discgolf.com/disc-golf-education-development/disc-golf-course-design/disc-golf-course-design-economic-summary/

http://www.stevewestdiscgolf.com/DiscGolf.pdf

https://www.innovadiscs.com/course-development/5/

https://www.dgcoursereview.com/forums/showthread.php?t=116816

 

Disc golf serves a different demographic than traditional golf. By encouraging them to share the same infrastructure, it allows Passaic County to leverage their investment for a new group of people.

https://www.pdga.com/demographics

 

Disc golf baskets are often warranted for 20 years of active use. Once the initial investment is made, the course can meet the stated needs of county residents for years to come without significant maintenance.

https://www.discgolf.com/disc-golf-baskets/

 

The County of Passaic already has a relationship with a professional disc golf course designer.

This trained person would be ideal for laying out a quality course that meets the needs of the disc golf community without interfering with the established golf course.

 

The golf facilities at Preakness Valley Golf Course are completely dedicated to sport, and dwarf every other Lower Passaic County Park in size. The two courses total 377 acres, with considerable boundary regions suitable for disc golf.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preakness_Valley

 

We suggest that if there is an under used park in Passaic County, it might be the golf courses.

Data from the 2014 Passaic County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan reveals that only 11% of respondents used Preakness Valley Golf Course, while more than twice that amount, 24%, used Rifle Camp Park. (Page 29 or PDF pg. 43/274)

http://www.passaiccountynj.org/DocumentCenter/View/4334

 

 

* CON: Why Rifle Camp Park is a Bad Location for a Disc Golf Course

 

Rifle Camp Park was clearly intended as a natural park with a nature center and hiking trails. It has served in this role since its creation.  http://savercp.org/was-rifle-camp-park-supposed-to-be-natural/

 

Rifle Camp Park has always been a passive use park. This can be seen in Woodland Park’s Municipal Briefing Book on the 2014 Passaic County Open Space Master Plan which lists Rifle Camp Park as Passive in the Borough of West Paterson Table 1. (PDF pg. 22/27) Woodland Park’s Municipal Briefing Book

http://www.passaiccountynj.org/DocumentCenter/View/261

It is also made clear in the 2001 Passaic County Open Space Master Plan which lists Rifle Camp Park as passive in the table in its Inventory of Public Open Space, Conservation and Recreation Land Borough of West Paterson. (PDF pg. 30/197) and also states that Rifle Camp Park “was virtually undeveloped until recently It remains a passive park with trails, a nature center and an astronomical observatory The nature center and astronomical observatory should continually be enhanced to keep up with current issues and technology Garret Mountain and Rifle Camp Park are remarkable resources. The steep cliffs are within sight and walking distance of downtown Paterson, the state’s third largest city. The reservation is a refuge of forest and wildlife within the urban grid of the New York metropolitan area.” (Pg 6-2 or PDF pg. 83/197)

2001 Passaic County Open Space Master Plan

http://www.passaiccountynj.org/documentcenter/view/251

 

Rifle Camp Park is the last major parcel of undeveloped property in the Passaic County Park system in Lower Passaic County. It is a resource and a refuge for the residents of Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic from city life. To develop Rifle Camp Park as a sporting facility will place traditional passive uses of the park in conflict with its use as a disc golf course.

https://www.dgcoursereview.com/forums/showthread.php?t=127303&page=2

http://savercp.org/a-disc-golf-forum-moderator-who-understands-passive-parks/

 

Disc golf is played with heavy plastic disks, often with sharp edges, hurled at metal targets at high speeds. Injuries to spectators are not unusual, along with injuries to the participants themselves. (In a recent survey, over 80% of disc golf players reported sports-related injuries.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2325967115589076)

The paths taken by the flying disks are not regular or predictable, making an active disc golf course a hazardous environment for park visitors.

http://savemclarenpark.org/SMP4_dgsafety.html

 

There are over 19 public disc golf courses in New Jersey, for a sport which remains obscure. Four major courses can be found within 16 miles of Rifle Camp Park. There is no evidence of significant demand among Passaic County residents for a new disc golf course.  http://www.njdiscgolf.com/

 

New York City is the largest population center to Rifle Camp Park with a significant population of disc golfers. If installed in Rifle Camp Park, this course will be by far the closest course to New York City and the obvious choice for the thousands of city residents who play disc golf.

https://www.pdga.com/course-directory

 

Survey respondents in the 2014 Passaic County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan showed an overwhelming preference for passive recreation on hiking and nature trails. “Forty three (43) percent of respondent households indicated that they use walking and hiking trails most often… Thirteen (13) percent indicated that they used nature and river trails most often.” (Pages 28-29 PDF pgs. 42-43/274)

http://www.passaiccountynj.org/DocumentCenter/View/4334

 

The 2014 Master Plan also reports that in a survey Rifle Camp Park is the second most used Passaic County Park in the entire system, after Garret Mountain Reservation. “The three most used areas were: Garret Mountain Reservation 45%; Rifle Camp Park 24%; and Goffle Brook Park 22%.” (Page 28 or PDF pg. 42/274)

http://www.passaiccountynj.org/DocumentCenter/View/4334

If the Nature Center and Observatory were reopened for educational programs, we have no doubt that the use of this park by Passaic County residents would return to historic levels without adding a disc golf course.

 

The Audubon Societies of both New Jersey (State) and Bergen County (National) have each clearly stated that Rifle Camp Park contains “extremely valuable and sensitive habitat”. This park is registered as part of a state Important Birding Area (IBA), and is considered a valuable resource worthy of protection.

http://www.njaudubon.org/sectionibba/ibbasiteguide.aspx?sk=3156

http://savercp.org/letter_njaudubon/

http://savercp.org/letter_bergen_county_audubon/

There are additional strong objections from the Sierra Club:

http://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/08/30/letter-keep-rifle-camp-park-green-space-all/616810001/

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The Passaic County Freeholders have announced a plan to convert Rifle Camp Park from a passive park dedicated to nature to an active sports facility hosting a tournament- level Disc Golf course. They have hired a designer who has presented a design to convert nearly the entire forested areas of the park to a PDGA-approved disk golf facility. Note this planned sporting amenity would be the closest Disc Golf Course to New York City; at 17 miles it is almost half as close as the nearest other courses at Campgaw.

Local residents feel that this is not in their best interests, and oppose this proposal. They are also outraged by the County’s lack of transparency and lack of proper public notice regarding this project.

 

The only people who can stop the disc golf course construction at this point are the Passaic County Freeholders. They are having a meeting on Tuesday September 26th at 6PM, at their Meeting Room on the second floor of 401 Grand Street, Paterson NJ. We are encouraging residents and park users who object to this plan to show up and let the Freeholders know how they feel about this proposal.

 

Rifle Camp Park is the last undeveloped Passaic County Park in lower Passaic County. The redevelopment of the park away from a natural open space devoted to hiking and passive recreation will remove a precious refuge from city life from the citizens of lower Passaic County.

 

In addition, Rifle Camp Park is considered an Audubon Important Birding Area; a vital stopover for many rare and unusual species during their spring and fall migration patterns. Some threatened species have been found there, such as the red-headed woodpecker. The proposed change in use for this park will disrupt both migrating species and those that live in the park year round, including a robust deer population which may need to find a new home.

 

Rifle Camp Park was established in the 1970’s with large natural areas clearly marked. The park is adjacent to the Great Notch Reservoir and contains wetlands that include the headwaters for the Third River. A Nature Center and Observatory building was built to celebrate the environment, and the natural world that can still be found there. This park was clearly designed and intended for Passive Recreation- Hiking, education, and the peaceful contemplation of nature.

 

Rifle Camp Park is a Green Acres recipient park. However, in apparent violation of Green Acres regulations, the Freeholders of Passaic County have refused to have the public hearing required during a transfer from a passive park to an active sports facility. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) guideline document for disc golf design, an 18 hole tournament-level course will require at least 4500 feet of fairway, between 15 and 40 feet wide- an estimated one acre per hole. The Freeholders now claim the installation of golf course fairway thru the lush native forest at Rifle Camp Park will disturb less than a quarter acre of trees, something clearly in dispute based on our own research – and common sense. See the map of the proposed course from Passaic County’s presentation, shown on our website at http://savercp.org/disc_golf_map/. This plan is not to “add” a disc golf course to the park, but rather to convert the existing acreage to a disc golf course by using nearly all available space for fairways and tees.

 

Disc Golf is not “Frisbee” Golf

“Frisbee” is a trademark of the Wham-O toy corporation, and refers to soft plastic flying discs that are often used for games of catch. Nobody plays catch with disc golf discs. Disc Golf is played with hard plastic slabs, not at all like the soft Frisbees of our youth. They are thrown at high speed at metal targets. You would not want to walk too close to an active disc golf course; it is known to be dangerous.

 

Who is the Save Rifle Camp Park Coalition?:

The Save Rifle Camp Park Coalition was forged from community members and environmentally-minded organizations gathered together to protect our treasured park. We are your neighbors, your friends; concerned citizens brought together by an urgent call. In support of our efforts to end this project, the Save Rifle Camp Park Coalition has begun a grass-roots campaign to explain to the community what is at risk and to build support for our cause. Our high-visibility Lawn Signs are available, along with important information on our website, http://saveRCP.org.  We invite any environmentally-minded group to join our coalition, and receive new support every day.

 

We may not be saving the world, but are doing what we can to protect a little corner of it.

Think Globally, Act Locally.

Save Rifle Camp Park!

 

PETITION:

Save Rifle Camp Park – Stop the Disc Golf Course at Change.org https://www.change.org/p/freeholders-of-passaic-county-save-rifle-camp-park-stop-the-disc-golf-course

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