In years gone by, if there was a public fight to be waged in Riverside, it’d often be fought over exactly how park land should be used.

Green spaces are treasured in Riverside, since their broad expanses are the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s general plan for the village. It’s understandable that those who love those green spaces feel possessive of them.

But we’d remind everyone of what Olmsted himself thought of those green spaces. Writing in 1868 in his preliminary report to the Riverside Improvement Company, he put it this way:

“We should recommend the appropriation of some of the best of your property for public grounds, and that most of these should have the character of informal village-greens, commons and play-grounds, rather than of enclosed and defended parks or gardens.”

Those green spaces should, Olmsted wrote, “often provide at such points, croquet or ball grounds, sheltered seats and drinking fountains, or some other objects which would be of general interest or convenience to passers-by.”

In other words, Olmsted viewed parks as active spaces to be used by the community, not passive sanctuaries to be, in his words, “defended.”

So, the prospect of disc golf – not a thing back in 1868, but in concept along the lines of croquet – would appear to fit in with Olmsted’s vision for what purpose Riverside’s parks should serve.

And while the Parks and Recreation Department might have moved more quickly to reach out to residents near Indiana Gardens, where a disc golf course is being proposed, we’re not sure it would have made much of a difference to at least some neighbors, who want no part of it for that location, Olmsted be damned.

What’s most disappointing is an apparent scare campaign underway implying that the Scout Cabin will disappear and stating, recklessly, that “random strangers” will be ordering Riverside residents out of their park in order to play a round of disc golf, presumably with their dirty, outsider hands and shoes.

That’s some old-school Riverside parochialism right there, and it’s as ugly now as it was in 1893, when Riverside went to court to try and stop the construction of a bridge connecting Riverside with Riverside Lawn. That bid failed and the Swinging Bridge has long been seen as an amenity.

There are some details to work out with regard to disc golf in Indian Gardens – where exactly the holes will be, how the hole structures will be anchored, whether they can be removed in winter and how to make them as inobtrusive as possible.

We are certain that, with an advisory committee of 25 people, work can be done in good faith and without the need for anyone to push self-serving false narratives impugning the motives of their fellow Riverside residents.