Orrington disc golf course plans expansion despite town’s closure of parking lot

Posted Jan. 29, 2013, at 7:13 p.m.

ORRINGTON, Maine — The town’s decision to require the owners of DR Disc Golf on Center Drive to construct a parking area in the back of the lot they lease from the town as a way to appease neighbors complaining about misbehaving players is going to be financially hard on the business, one owner said.

“In the middle of January, when I can’t actually do anything, we have this wall against us,” Dave Enman of Brunswick, who co-owns the Center Drive course with his brother Ryan Enman, said Tuesday.

He said it doesn’t make sense to put in a new parking area in the back of the lot without also building the new and already planned 40-by-20-foot clubhouse, a sentiment his brother shared with the Board of Selectmen on Monday when the panel told the business to add the new parking area.

Site plans for the proposed building, the new road and expanded course offerings already have been submitted, Town Manager Paul White said Monday. The project is expected to cost around $30,000, Dave Enman said.

“We basically have got to be moved by July 1,” he said. “We have no choice.”

The Enman brothers now use an old town-owned ice skating shack next to the parking lot as a clubhouse, which abuts land owned by Erik and Amy Michaud, who filed a complaint with the town last month.

The Michauds live next to the disc golf course at 265 Center Drive and approached the town last month with a letter full of complaints, mostly about the players who sometimes use profanities, are loud and also park facing the Michauds’ home while leaving their vehicle lights on. The couple also called police last week about a guy relieving himself in the parking lot, the couple told selectmen Monday.

The peeing incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the neighboring couple said.

Enman said his customers are generally fun-loving people who like the outdoors and sports.

“The kid that peed in the parking lot called me up and apologized to me,” Enman said.

The good news is that when the new parking lot is put in place, it will provide access to a second 18-hole course, Enman said.

“I’ve got a whole second course already cut out there that is not being used because you can’t reach it,” he said.

The “closed for the winter” sign posted now at the business basically means “free disc golf” to diehard players willing to trudge through the snow to get to the holes, he said.

Barriers put up by the town will stay in place until the business officially opens on March 15, but do nothing to stop the winter players, Town Manager Paul White said. The town has been generous over the last four years, he said.

“The movement of the selectmen last night was to close the parking lot to address the concerns of the neighbors,” White said. “The course is still open to the public for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing but there is no [off-street] parking in that area.”

The town took no steps to stop people from using the site, it only took steps to separate users of the land and the Michauds, the town manager said.

White said some of the problems are caused by people using the site, not the business owners.

Disc golf player Kirk Ginnish of Orono acknowledged that the peeing incident “put a pretty bad light on disc golfers” when the golfers he knows who use the course are into having good, clean — and inexpensive — outdoor fun.

“If I could, I would play every day,” Ginnish said. “It’s a rush of excitement. It’s a lot of fun.”

He said he has a number of friends who drive from Orono to Orrington just to play.

The business operators said the town has been helpful over the years but have now put a lot of financial pressure on them to make changes quickly.

“It’s going to stretch us awful hard,” Dave Enman said. “It’s going to stretch us financially. Last year, we broke even. The business has not made anything yet and now has to invest another $30,000.”

Enman said he first picked up a disc 15 years ago when he retired from the U.S. Air Force and “lost all his golf buddies.” He has started several disc golf courses in Maine and opened the Orrington locale four years ago.

Disc golf involves metal baskets serving as “holes” and special throwing discs.

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