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New site approved for Norwich proposed disc golf course

Norwich — The City Council on Monday approved a recommendation to relocate a proposed disc golf course from the site of an abandoned controversial botanical garden project to a wooded area behind the picnic pavilion on Mohegan Park Road, bringing it closer to the park center.

The Mohegan Park Improvements and Development Advisory Committee endorsed the move, citing several advantages to the new location, including existing nearby parking, existing trails through the woods, available water and trash cans and proximity to other recreational amenities.

Members of the advisory committee and Alderwoman Stacy Gould and Alderman Derell Wilson walked the proposed new area and endorsed the move, approved unanimously by the council. The course, estimated to cost $10,000, to be funded through donations and sponsorships of the hanging baskets, will be free for users.

Advisory committee Chairwoman Beryl Fishbone said the new area could help boost rentals of the picnic pavilion and adjacent softball field. While the entire disc golf course will not be handicapped-accessible, portions of it in the new location could be handicapped-accessible.

Fishbone said the new site could encourage more overall use of Mohegan Park. Disc golf players could bring their families, and nonplayers could have a picnic, use the nearby Spaulding Pond beach, or walk the handicapped-accessible paved trails around Spaulding Pond or other hiking trails.

The area has nature trails created in the 1970s that are no longer used, Fishbone said, but still in good shape. Volunteers have offered to clear downed limbs and debris from the trails and to clear apparently abandoned “squatters” camp sites in the area.

The committee had been planning to use an area of Mohegan Park that had been proposed for the Chelsea Gardens botanical garden project for the new disc golf course. The gardens project was abandoned after planners met with sharp criticism and a lawsuit when they ordered the clearing of 6 acres off Wilderness and Judd roads without having funding in place to build the proposed welcome center, classroom buildings and formal gardens.

Abutting property owner Charles Evans, who lives on Butternut Road and led the effort against the Chelsea Gardens project, also opposed the disc golf course in the area. Evans had filed two ethics complaints that were dismissed against the disc golf subcommittee of the Mohegan Park committee.

Mayor Peter Nystrom said he was pleased with the move, as he pledged years ago that he would not support any development in the former Chelsea Gardens area. He said the cleared area should be allowed to regrow as a forest.

c.bessette@theday.com

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