Pastor pitches disc park for town property

DOVER - Economic development director Steve Neratko held his monthly meeting with business owners Tuesday, May 22. 
Pastor Jeremy Kirk, of the West Dover Congregational Church, proposed that the town fund and operate a public disc golf course. Neratko also discussed business grants the town is working to make available, and business owner Rich Werner suggested that an economic development survey be sent to the town’s voters.
Kirk started his presentation by showing videos that illustrated disc golf for attendees not familiar with the sport, which is a form of golf in which discs are thrown into standing baskets. “It can be an attraction for an off-season resort area,” said Kirk, noting that although he thinks it would be good for the local economy, he’s personally invested in finding an activity for local youth to engage in. 
“I want it to be successful and for the town to support it so that local kids can have an inexpensive and accessible thing to do,” said Kirk. “There are kids of all different body shapes and intellectual abilities that thrive at this. There are even some studies about whether kids on the autism spectrum happen to perform at equal rates as kids who are not on the autism spectrum. There are all sorts of things in here that are great for local kids, and that is why I want it built.”
Kirk said in his view, Dover would be a perfect location for a disc golf course, noting that it’s his understanding that Mount Snow has considered building one for many years. “We are between two of the best courses in the world,” said Kirk. “One is Maple Hill outside of Boston, and the other is a private course at Smugglers Notch. That’s where the Disc Golf World Championships will be held in September.” 
Kirk said that disc golf enthusiasts travel between courses. He recalled a recent experience at a private disc golf course in Wilmington where two disc golf players from Phoenix stopped in on a trip between the Boston-area course and the one at Smugglers Notch. “This is an opportunity for Dover because people are going to come anyway,” said Kirk.
Kirk handed out a proposal, which estimated the cost of building the course to be about $13,000. Neratko said he had talked to town clerk Andy McLean about a possible piece of land that the town could use, which was acquired through a tax sale. Kirk and Neratko acknowledged that there are a number of details that still need to be evaluated, but said the presentation was intended to gauge the openness and interest of the townspeople toward the idea. The idea was well-received by attendees. 
In other matters, Neratko said he is exploring options for the business and community grant program the town is planning to launch. “The selectboard put aside funds to help assist businesses in town; $50,000 goes to businesses and $40,000 to assist community groups with a variety of projects.” Neratko said he is still trying to “get a hold” of how to operate the programs and is evaluating whether pursuing a few larger grants or many smaller grants would be more beneficial overall. The matter will be discussed at a future meeting. 
Also to be discussed at a future meeting is a survey about economic development, which Werner suggested at the end of Tuesday’s meeting. 
“There hasn’t been a survey since the initial one back in the dark ages,” said Werner. He also suggested using a mailing to build a database of email addresses so that people can be kept up-to-date on economic development issues. 
Neratko said he’d be happy to discuss the matter further at a future meeting. 

The Deerfield Valley News

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Wilmington, VT 05363

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