MARTINEZ -- Residents ready to fight a disc golf course at Hidden Lakes Open Space were surprised to learn there would be no fight.
They had crowded into City Hall for a public workshop on the proposal July 23, and there was stunned silence when project spokesman Stavros Kalogirou unexpectedly announced, "We are going to look at different locations. We understand that an open space is different than a park ... a lot of things got blown out of proportion."
He had detailed the benefits of a privately financed, free Martinez disc golf course -- played with Frisbee-like discs tossed into baskets -- but citing neighborhood acrimony over the plan, Kalogirou said he abandoned the effort at that site.
"Living (harmoniously) in the neighborhood is more important than disc golf," he told the crowd. "I am a father of four and I am not here to ruin the park or take it over."
Kalogirou had worked with course designer Leonard Muise and certified arborist Steven Keller to construct a hypothetical layout of an 18-hole course -- similar to others in the Bay Area -- which would minimize negative factors, and they had checked with city planners before receiving positive feedback from a Parks, Recreation, Marina & Cultural Commission at two meetings.
Impressed by the benefits of the multigenerational fun, inexpensive, healthy and environmentally friendly game (at no cost to the city), the Martinez City Council gave Kalogirou's group an approval to start the application process in June.
But that council decision sparked neighborhood fears about disc golf dangers, noise, interference with dog walking, parking, harm to wildlife and the environment at Hidden Lakes Open Space. The result was a Facebook and flier campaign to raise awareness.
Despite repeated assurances that a Hidden Lakes disc golf course was no longer being considered, Cathy Currea and others felt compelled to make their concerns known at the lengthy meeting conducted by City Engineer Tim Tucker.
Currea said a passer-by could be seriously injured by a flying disc. Another speaker mentioned the dangers to birds in the Pacific Flyway path. Others were concerned about noise, access for the disabled, devastation to wildlife habitat, damage to trees and watershed, as well as public liability.
Alhambra High School physical education teacher Bob Holsinger testified to the benefits of disc golf as a lifetime activity that he teaches to students.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Gay Gerlack had supported disc golf at an April subcommittee meeting, but suggested a location closer to downtown could benefit restaurants and be more appropriate.
Some of the numerous speakers asked Tucker why the meeting was even held, if Kalogirou had decided to forego the Hidden Lakes site.
"It was a last-minute decision," Tucker replied.
Residents still demanded reassurances that Hidden Lakes is no longer being considered as a disc golf course site.
Councilwoman AnaMarie Avila Farias apologized to Kalogirou for hostile public comments, and then she and Councilwoman Lara DeLaney confirmed support for disc golf, but at another site.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at email@example.com or call 925-202-9292.