Why rush ahead with the disc golf project in Riverside when the Parks and Rec Department is planning a separate village-wide survey and master plan for the parks? Might better uses of the funds be discovered through this comprehensive survey?

In addition to fair and thoughtful allocation of parks and rec resources, there are many well-founded issues with the proposed disc golf course, such as its environmental impact, safety near passing cars and people, and siting in a heavily used area for nature walks and kids’ nature play. 

None of these concerns are rooted in xenophobia or NIMBYism, divisive traits seemingly assigned to those who disagree with the disc golf siting. I am not anti-golf, anti-fun, anti-kids, or anti-change. I do, however, object to siting the game in the very woods integral to Riverside’s unique outdoor play offerings, national heritage and historic status.

This space is deemed a “natural area” in the Master Landscape Plan approved by the Riverside Village Board in 2015. It has enormous historical significance and is the last remnant forest of any size in Riverside. 

It is not a “pristine” forest by any means, but instead offers the “Last Child in the Woods” (Richard Louv) a chance to escape “nature deficit disorder.” Contrary to the Landmark’s characterization of early Riversiders as isolationists (editorial Aug. 1), the trails along the river famously drew hundreds (thousands?) of people from outside the village.

In these woods, Jane Addams’ Hull House residents walked. In these woods, the nascent forest preserve movement began with luminaries such as Dwight Perkins and Jens Jensen who hiked here with conservation groups. In these woods, “Father of North American Ecology” Henry Cowles walked with his students to explore biology. 

And let’s not forget the Native Americans, for whom this natural area is named, and who thrived and ultimately are believed buried nearby. In an era where many inclusive communities are acknowledging the natural world of the Native Americans, is disc golf the best honorarium Riverside can do?

The Parks and Rec Department, with input from their committee and other residents, has significantly improved the original disc golf proposal since their public July 24 meeting. 

They have discussed how they will try to minimize discs thrown near the roads, rubberize the chains to reduce noise, minimize landscape disruption and research removable posts. They have talked about the possibility of locating the course closer to the ballfield (versus the natural areas and Scout Cabin). 

I hope these and other compromises are made so that we are finally out of the woods.

Cathy Maloney, Riverside