By Mike Lednovich
A disc golf group pitching Simmons Road Park property as the site for an 18-hole disc course got the green light at Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) meeting to explore costs and a preliminary project design.
The committee, as part of a 5-2 vote to proceed, said other locations may also be under consideration.
Officials of 8 Flags Disc Golf Association and NSB Disc Golf Club Inc., are seeking a public/private partnership with the city to build and run the disc course.
Tom Goad, president of 8FDGA, said the disc course would require an acre per hole and would be located on the undeveloped south end of the Simmons Road Park parcel. He said the current park trail and areas would be unaffected by the disc golf course.
Goad’s group would pay the $9,000 required for the 18 disc catch baskets. He asked if the city would pay for the concrete or paver tee boxes. 8FDGA would be responsible for maintenance of the disc golf course, Goad said.
Disc golf is similar to golf, but instead of hitting a ball into a hole, players throw a Frisbee into a basket or target. The objective of the game is to complete each hole in as few throws as possible. The course is typically laid out in a park or other outdoor setting. Each hole consists of a tee area and a basket that is used to catch the disc.
“The club will provide a professionally designed disc golf course layout that will allow for concurrent use by others, namely trail hiking,” a letter to the committee says.
“Further, the club will provide 18 professional disc golf targets. Our partnership will assure the city there will be a point of contact from the club, to maintain the targets, signage and tee pads, and to assist the city employees in installing the course,” the letter says.
“The city would need to provide tee pads and a signage package that includes both the disc golf course and the interpretive and way-finding trail markings. The city would need to assist in the cleaning and selective clearing and grubbing.”
The disc golf course project was not supported by PRAC members Phil Chapman and Shelia Cocchi.
“I have concerns, and one is that you’re going to have to clear the (proposed) area. You have no idea the fight the city had to put Simmons Park there. The goal of Simmons Park was as a passive park. The purpose of that park is going to get lost (if you build this),” Chapman said.
Cocchi said her hope was “that there was not a lot more movement (displacement of habitat) at Simmons Road Park.”
Cocchi asked Goad if his group had approached Nassau County for a site that would be large enough to accommodate a disc golf course. Goad said since much of the county land is owned by Rayonier, that course opportunities in the county are limited.
Member Cheryl Grant favored the proposal.
“My kids played disc golf for many, many years and what I like about disc golf is that you are essentially in the woods. And you can have your entire family out there watching someone play disc golf,” Grant said. “It (a disc golf course) will have the open pathways so you’re not afraid you’re going to step on a rattlesnake or something.”
The next step is for 8FDGA and the Parks and Recreation Department to provide more information to PRAC regarding costs to the city for the proposal.
Isn’t there one of these off Citrona near the schools?
Yes, it is part of the high school property. I think anyone can play there. I’ve taken my grandkids there, even when school is in session, and no one’s said anything.
Yes, there is and no one ever uses it. This project would be a waste of money and trees. Vote No.
A “passive” park should be just that. A place of inactivity, a place for wildlife to co-exist without being disturbed by human activity. Leave it wild, passive, and peaceful. Eighteen + acres for frisbee golf is not a passive use for that public park
Simmons park was originally planned to have playground equipment and other features. However, those plans changed and we have the park we have now. The biggest issue against the park was the amount of trees and foliage that would need to be removed. Sometimes things happen and you end up with a final product that is an unintended benefit. That is todays Simmons park. It’s perfect as it is. It’s a passive park providing a different experience. I’m not opposed to disc golf but more opposed to clearing more trees and changing the dynamics of the existing park. I would encourage 8 Flags disc golf to seek out a different location. Clearing 18 acres will have a detrimental impact to the existing park.
so a second golf course to lose more money on?
Disc golf is actually just frisbees thrown into some wire baskets. Once it’s up, there is very little maintenance.
The town course has 29(?) holes. Do they make money on any of that? Consistent money? Otherwise what the heck are they thinking? Taking down acres and acres of trees for another loosing proposition- where’s the common sense. Destroying the last little bit of tree cover for ”disc” golf is another TopTracer. Absolutely NO.
Barb, three 9-hole courses +27 holes and the golf course operations have consistently been losing money for more than a decade. I would have to believe that this course would be free for usage as having someone there to collect a user fee would be ridiculous. I know the disc golf course at Airport Park in Orlando is free.
Here we go again. Wake up, folks! Removal of more trees in that area, or damage like “grubbing,” will result in. more flooding in that part of the island. We live on a relatively small barrier island in 2023, and what is left of our trees is the core of our stormwater management system.
At some point we have to consider the wildlife negatively impacted by this kind of destruction of habitat. At the very least, how can we remain a Tree City of the World and attract tourism (our bread and butter) when we spend our time planning the removal of so many of our trees?
I agree with Margaret and Wende. Disc golf is not frisbee in the woods. There’s a large amount of clearing of trees that need to happen to make a proper disc golf course. Check out the one on Citrona at the high school and you’ll get an idea of how much vegetation must to be cleared for a disc golf course to work. It’s a lot.
Patrick is right. There is an existing Disc Golf course on Citrona near the high school. Why build another one?
SO where are these people going to park? Why do they need 18-hole course? Put a couple up at Egan’s Creek Park on Atlantic.
This has to be the most ridiculous idea ever! When Simmons Road Park was first presented by 8 Flags Playscapes there was such a blowback about removing trees and vegetation and it caused such a divide! As with Egans Creek Park, 8 Flags did an amazing job, and both of these parks are enjoyed by so many for differing reasons. Egans Creek Park is a great family park with something for everyone and include fishing and kayak launching. Simmons Road Park is a piece of paradise, so peaceful and calm and the trails are perfection. Now, some on PRAC and Ms Vorrasi want to put in disc golf? What are you thinking? Oh wait, you’re not!! We are there often and know that so many trees and vegetation would have to be removed that it is criminal! There is a disc gold course on Citrona at the high school that is open to everyone, and it is rarely used, so why the need for another one? Those who have even thought of this idea for a second, need to rethink and move on. What does it take for “those in charge” and those on Boards and Committees to stop and think before even presenting something like this?
Watch a PRAC meeting and see the bully, Ms. Vorrasi, talk over anyone who is trying to make a point or say anything she thinks she may not want to hear! A disc golf course with 18 holes, needs much more than 18 acres. An acre per hole, lots of parking for these ‘tournaments’ they want to hold, and most likely more bathrooms. Ms. Vorrasi should concentrate on getting back the SIX fulltime employees who quit or were unjustly fired from the parks crew. They are also in need of a new daycare director since they fired the one, again unjustly, who was there for 21 years! They cannot run the program when school starts without one. She stated in the PRAC meeting that they’ve hired nine new employees. No one asked her if those were to replace those FULLTIME employees, or if she’s including part time seasonal help for the children’s summer camp and the pool. Please start asking questions, PRAC Members and City Residents! Why would anyone sit back while thousands of trees would be destroyed?
I thought I had heard in a recent meeting that the City Commission asked department heads to propose a 10% budget cut, but have now seen two new proposals for programs that increase costs for the Parks/Rec Department and zero new revenue producing or cost savings proposals. We need to prioritize money AND time on the focus of fixing what we have before we keep going down these other rabbit holes.
Totally agree! Sadly, we are not known for maintaining anything. We want new and more and ignore the old! It is truly wrong.
Exactly my point to start taking notice and asking questions about the money Ms. Vorrasi is spending like there is no limit! It seems she’s doing whatever she wants, and NO ONE is watching!!!
As a native of Fernandina, I’ve seen the destruction of so many trees here and throughout the county. We already have many parks. Is it really necessary to destroy 18 acres of important tree cover and wildlife habitat for yet another? When is enough, enough???
Yes this is a great idea! If the current proposed area is a problem, then find another area nearby. Bring more disc golf to Fernandina!! Ignore the folks who say no to everything!
Apparently, there is an existing disc golf near the high school that is underused.
If you want it that badly, put it on County land!
I suggest that the P&R board read the parks master plan and follow it.
Where does it say anything about removing trees? Disc golf requires very little maintenance and is played in a natural habitat. I can’t imagine anything it anyone being disturbed by this! A professional course, unlike the tiny one at the school, will most definitely attract players from all around. I’m sure it will get used. So settle down Karen
Some Cons of disc golf related to the environment: Researchers looked at news stories about disc golf written during those years and found that as time went on, the articles began to mention potentially negative environmental impacts of disc golf. Those impacts included vegetation loss, tree root exposure and soil erosion. They also found some impacts specific to the sport: players cutting branches to give themselves more room to throw, and tree bark damage as a result of the discs hitting trees