Park District

The Decatur Park District announced yesterday that Scovill Golf Course, located on Decatur’s west side will be closing at the end of October of this year.  I don’t think anybody was shocked by the announcement because the closing had been discussed and postponed over the last couple of years.  Some people are upset and most are very concerned with what will become of the land and buildings after its closure.  Of course, I have ideas, as I’m sure others do as well.

First, I think it’s important for the park district to consider recreational activities that people today are most interested in that don’t cost a lot of money to provide.  I think last year I wrote about activities that people all over the country are most interested in and the top activities included adventure trails, hiking, biking, disc golf, wildlife viewing, nature photography, and other activities that generally don’t cost people a lot of money or time to participate in.  I think Scovill would be ideal for such outdoor adventure type activities.  It’s located along a wildlife corridor in Decatur and Macon County and linking it to nearby  Rock Springs Conservation Area, and the bike trail, would make a lot of sense from a conservation and recreational standpoint.

Below shows the flood zone area that encompasses part of the golf course and the above satellite view shows its proximity to Rock Springs and the Sangamon River, which is directly to the south of Scovill.

Of course, I am a conservationists, so I’m going to be pushing for conservation improvements to be incorporated into whatever is to become of the land.  The golf course is in a beautiful natural setting with rolling hills, a large pond, and the Sangamon River to the south.  Much of the infrastructure is already there for trails, such as bridges.  I believe the banquet hall should remain open and available for rental.  It’s a popular place for wedding receptions, special events, and meetings.

Most of all, I would like the public to decide what is to become of the land.  I think there should be meetings, similar to the type that District 61 held when the options for high school renovations were brought before the public.  The public was very instrumental in making those decisions.  Options should be placed on a table for all to see and comment on.  It shouldn’t be up to just the park commissioners.  An involved public is going to be much more supportive of whatever decision is made, as long as they know that they truly influenced and shaped that decision.  Also, the public can bring great ideas!  Lastly and importantly, we’ll find out what recreational options people in Decatur truly want instead of guessing.

So I am imploring the Decatur Park District to open the discussion and planning to the public.  It is in your best interest and it is in the best interest of the city.  Let’s get this right.

Satellite pics courtesy of Decatur Digital Atlas

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Well now that the election is over, for better or worse (don’t get me started) I’ll turn my focus once again to good ole Decatur.

Overlook Adventure Park New Aquatic Center

On one hand I’m happy that the park district is moving ahead with an aquatic facility for Nelson Park, aka Overlook Adventure Park.  With the amphitheater coming soon, it makes sense to get much of the original vision coming together in a timely fashion.

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The new aquatic center is going to be located adjacent to the miniature golf course.  Looking at the conceptual drawing the plan looks okay and that’s the problem – it’s just okay.  If it’s trying to be marketed as a waterpark then it really needs to have waterpark features.  Probably the two most important ones are a lazy river and a wave pool.  They did leave the option to add a lazy river in the future, so I guess that’s good.

I’m also not thrilled with closing Fairview’s Pool.  It seems like such a waste.  I’d rather it be leased to a private club than just have it sit and decay or be demolished.  Having both facilities would ease overcrowding.  I stopped taking my kids to Fairview a long time ago because it wasn’t enjoyable.  It was always too crowded to truly swim and I spent most of my time frantically keeping an eye on my then young son hoping he didn’t get separated from me and drown.  Honestly, I think Decatur needs both facilities open to ease overcrowding and leave an important amenity for the West End.

New Playground

I hate to be a party pooper but I’m not really all that thrilled about the new playground for Nelson Park either.  It’s pretty much the same thing we already have at Scovill Zoo, which isn’t that far away.  I think that money could have been put towards neighborhood parks or something else that we don’t currently have.  That’s just my two cents.

City Is Going to Demolish 1,000 Structures

The city is really getting aggressive and serious about demolishing dilapidated houses in Decatur.  The city council will be discussing this more soon and I’ll wait to comment in detail about it till then but I think it’s a good idea.  Some parts of town just need to start from scratch again.  That opens up so many possibilities.  I’d love the city and private developers to push for ultra-energy efficient homes. It’s something that isn’t offered yet in Decatur or nearby communities but it is the future of home design.  Imagine living in a home with no power bills!  It would definitely help paint Decatur as a progressive (not talking politics), forward-thinking community.  Go for it!

 

 

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A focus group will hold a meeting on November 10th at 5:30 pm at the Scovill Golf Course to discuss the state of golf, challenges and efforts to “right size”, and options for the future.  Decatur’s golf courses continue to lose money and efforts to generate interest in golf, which has waned considerably 10-20 years, haven’t succeeded.

The Decatur Park District currently has three golf courses:  Red Tail Run, Hickory Point, and Scovill.  I don’t know what options are being considered but it’s possible that closing one of the golf courses is on the table.  So, which one, hypothetically speaking, should that be?  I don’t know.

Admittedly, I’m not a golfer.  The only course I’ve ever played was Wildwood, which became Red Tail.  As a family we go miniature golfing once in a while but that’s mostly as an excuse to eat at Cherry Berry. I don’t think golf even crosses people’s minds much anymore.  Who on a Sunday afternoon thinks about golf as something to do?  I never have.  Just like I wouldn’t think about quilting or churning butter, golf just doesn’t seem to fit in with the modern world for whatever reasons. So what does fit in?

From a 2013, Outdoor Participation Report, conducted by the Outdoor Foundation, the outdoor activities that Americans are participating in have a lot to do with water sports and fitness.  Stand-up paddling, board sailing, kayaking, rafting are all on the top of the list with adventure racing, jogging, trail running, climbing, and bicycling amongst many others.  Golf didn’t even make the list as an outdoor recreation activity in the report.

I have noticed when I travel that stand-up paddling is very popular as are many other water sports.  Too bad we can’t attach wheels to the bottom of the boards and golf with them.  So, I guess it’s good news if we want to market Lake Decatur as a recreation destination but it still doesn’t help our golf courses – unless we flood them.

Golf courses across the nation are experiencing a decline in interest.  It isn’t just a Decatur thing.  I’ve seen glow-in-the-dark golf advertised and all kids of gimmicks.  Decatur has tried different things too.  Maybe nude golfing would raise someone’s interest but considering the average age of a golfer is over 65, I don’t think so.  I think it’s just come time to realize that golf just isn’t that interesting anymore and begin focusing on outdoor activities  people are interested in.

I’m not going to suggest or support anything yet until I hear the options.

 

 

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Well this post would have been up a week ago but my MacBook’s hard drive crashed.  It’s still in the repair shop and hopefully I’ll have it back soon because I’m so lost without it! It’s taken a while to get used to a Windows operating system again on my old desktop.  Thank goodness I still have it and it still works!  Anyway…

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Last week a group of eight of my family members visited Decatur’s new mini-golf course.  I had written about it, and taken several pictures as it was being built over the past year. It was great to finally see it up close and personal, instead of through a telephoto lens. We decided to play course B, so the photos you’ll see are from that particular course. There are two to choose from. Course A has some shade from mature trees, so if it’s hot, you may want to choose it instead! It wasn’t that hot and sunny when we played, so course B was fine. Well, I guess, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

Below:  The last holes of both courses.  I guess I should have put this photo last.

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My 9 year old son having a good time.  Later in the game he was throwing his club in frustration.  Like mother, like son!  I was the same way as a kid.  It’s hard being the youngest when everybody else can do better, and you have two older brothers who tease you relentlessly…wait a minute, I’ll save that for my therapist!  Back to the course…

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You’ll do better hitting the ball around the water at the Flamingo hole but what fun is that? 🙂

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I didn’t put two and two together at the time but the penguin on the ship is supposed to be in reference to Decatur’s namesake, Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval war hero.  There are Decatur landmarks and trivia thrown into the theme of the course, along with the animals of Decatur’s Scovill Zoo.

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The meerkats were my personal favorite!

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Finally got to see one of the two bridges I watched being constructed up close and personal.

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Below:  The goat hole!  There’s little details like this that you’ll have to pay special attention to. The goat has taken a bite out of the sign and is eating the “grass”.

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Below is a wider view of the course. I would need a wide angle lens to really show it.  I just used the camera on my phone for these.  The course is beautifully landscaped but I noticed some plants had already been trampled by big and little feet.  There’s some tweaking to be done here and there to prevent such unintended damage.

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We all agreed it was a fun family outing. Young children will especially enjoy the animals. The only thing I missed was music! That was a big part of Paul’s when I was a teenager. It seemed odd without music playing in the background but then, knowing today’s music industry, they would probably want royalties and the park district would be sued.

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Sundays have a special rate of $20 for a family of four, otherwise it is $6.50/adult, $5.50/child, and 3 and under is free.  It’s fairly reasonable pricing I think.  There are other special dates and promotions too. It is an upgrade over Pauls’, so we can’t expect to pay Paul’s prices!  Check out the Decatur park district’s website for more details.

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I thought by now I would have stunk up more than a few rounds of miniature golf and Decatur’s new Overlook Adventure* mini-golf course, but delays have pushed its opening back to the end of June or possible July.  I visited it last Fall as construction really got underway and took some photos then, so I decided to make another visit today, June 13th 2014, to see what progress has been made.

Overland Adventure Mini-Golf Course

There has been a lot of progress but honestly I thought it would be further along but I’m beginning to see some of the more detailed work shaping up.  Yet to be installed are the escaped critters from the zoo, which will be the theme for the course.  We should see some familiar animals from Decatur’s Scovill Zoo as we become aggravated, I mean as we enjoy playing each hole.  (I’m very competitive in miniature golf, ridiculously so.)

Other obvious things that need to be completed besides the installation of plastic critters are a fence, a finished parking lot, and quite a bit of landscaping.  If it’s going to be open by the end of this month, they’re really going to have to kick up construction into a higher gear.  I’m thinking it’ll probably be July before it’s ready but I could be wrong.

If I remember correctly, a Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop, and a potato themed restaurant will also occupy the building.  I haven’t heard when those will be ready.

*I called it Overland Adventure Park originally but that didn’t sound right, so I double-checked and yep I was wrong…it’s Overlook Adventure Park. Now the guy with the binoculars and raccoon on his back on top of the building makes more sense.

Well, I’ll just let the photos do the rest of the talking: (Click on the pics for a closer view.)

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Uhm…that flag looks familiar to me for some reason.

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The lights are in. I think this is going to be a very popular place on a summer night in Decatur.

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There's just something about that flag.  I've seen it somewhere!

There’s just something about that flag. I’ve seen it somewhere…. I think the raccoon gives us a good idea of what to expect from the other critters yet to be installed.

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The ticket booth.  I hope it’s a very busy ticket booth.

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I love the detail in the brickwork.

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The natural vegetation landscaping in the parking lot islands sure look healthy! Isn’t that the way it always is with weeds…

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