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Disc Golf, Food Forest and Other Ideas for Franc Property

What activities would you like to see at the Franc Property Open Space?

The Franc Property in Bethel. Photo Credit: Aaron Boyd
The Franc Property in Bethel. Photo Credit: Aaron Boyd
A group of residents commissioned to figure out what to do with the open space at the Franc property on Plumtrees Road has put together a list of recommended rules and uses, including an 18-hole disc golf course.

During a recent meeting, the Franc Property Land Use Committee suggested five potential uses for the property:
  1. Disc Golf
  2. Community Garden
  3. Dog Park
  4. Nature Center (in conjunction with the Board of Education and/or Audubon Society)
  5. Food Forest (or Forest Gardening)

Bethel Land Use employee Beth Cavagna, who is also a member of the Franc Committee, said they are particularly interested in seeing the property used for recreational activities and out-of-the-box ideas like disc golf are exactly what they’re looking for.

Cavagna said a disc golf demonstration held at one of the movie nights in front of town hall this summer went over well with residents there.

“The families just loved it,” she said. “I think this has a possibility of being really fun and cool and different.”

The Committee is also looking at community garden ideas, including a potential forest garden, where the gardeners plant edible trees and shrubs.

The list of suggested uses and rules (see below) have been submitted to the Board of Selectmen for comment, however the list has not be finalized.

Another public input meeting has been scheduled for Sept. 12 for comments on the recommendations, as well as new ideas.

Proposed Rules
  • Open from sunrise to sunset
  • Dogs must be on a leash
  • Whatever you bring in, please take it out when you leave
  • Camping by permit only through the Parks and Recreation Department
  • Hunting or trapping by permit only
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles
  • No alcohol or drugs
Don Warfield September 04, 2013 at 08:03 AM
What I would like to see from the committee: Preserve and/or enhance the existing environmental and the potential economic benefits of the Franc property without implementing uses that prohibit the use of the property based on age income, fees, seasonal uses, etc. nor uses that would tax our town’s aquifer/wells, involve significant application of chemicals or involve spending multiple millions of dollars without risking the town’s bond rating. Implement multiple uses but at the same time, as reasonably as possible, honor the Franc family to keep the land as open space as much as possible. I ask you to provide strong leadership with pro‐active land protection, not only to meet our obligations to permanently protect our conserved lands forever, but to continually provide the Bethel community with opportunities for meaningful engagement with the lands we’ve conserved.
Adam Rushka September 04, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Leave it as is so our children know what woods look like and wild animals have a place to live.
Honorah O'Neill September 04, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Definitely like the idea of the food forest and the community garden. It was, after all, agricultural land. I would also like to see some of the pasture area kept as pasture, possibly along same lines of community garden idea of you may lease space for livestock grazing. We do have the agricultural extension office in town and have the regional vocational-agricultural school we send students to, so involving one or both of them in determining regulations for use would work out well. Frank always had a few cows out to pasture and continuing to allow grazing would help preserve that appearance. Plus if the area isn't grazed, it will need to be mowed to keep it from reverting to forest. Forest is lovely, but field is much rarer habitat in this area. Making sure it stays as meadow would help several threatened and endangered species. Bird watchers would likely be very happy! Making sure it could be used for grazing opens up possibilities for students engaged with FFA or 4-H that might not normally have space to raise an animal. If we want to preserve the rural character of town (something that's brought up constantly at planning meetings!) making sure people have a way to try their hand at small scale agriculture is an important component. I'm not saying use ALL of it for livestock grazing and certainly not for heavy production, just allow leases similar to community garden plot. you're just growing something different! I DO like the idea of a dog park somewhere in town, but I'm not sure the Franc property is the best fit. Overlook Park seems like a better fit as there are a lot of people running dogs off lead already, it has existing parking, and its otherwise underused. It's also right downtown near lots of apartments and condos lacking yards. Adding fencing for a dog park would make an underused park a lot more appealing. (Overlook is on Nashville. it has trails and some picnic tables, but that's it. not really frequented by kids at all. It could ALSO be considered for a spot for a community garden, after a little tree trimming. Sandy was not kind)
Honorah O'Neill September 04, 2013 at 01:13 PM
For those unfamiliar with concept of the forest garden, here's some info on basic concept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_gardening with regards to possible community garden, a lot of the downed trees from Albert and Sandy can be used as base for creating hugelkultur beds, which would be ideal for community garden. Here's a good explanation of the concept, with pictures: http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/
Don Warfield September 04, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I like the idea of a community garden for a variety of reasons but one that sticks in my mind as a tie in to the proximity of Blue Jay Orchards. Throw in a nature center and you'll have use of the land year-round without significant disturbance to the ecology of the existing land, uses that I think the Franc family would welcome.
Danielle Oberg September 05, 2013 at 08:42 AM
I love the idea of Disc Golf! It's fun, active, and gets people to enjoy being outside.
Don Warfield September 06, 2013 at 08:31 AM
A nice suggestion Danielle. Unlike regular golf, as it was explained at the committee for the property usage, disc golf does not require changing the landscape, application on chemicals, employees, etc. but rather just a good eye and wrist action :-) Additionally, the activity can be undertaken by those who cannot afford golfing fees, thus not being financially prohibited for the use of this public property. Your suggested use coincides well with other suggested uses.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) September 06, 2013 at 11:12 AM
From our Facebook page, Brian Walters II wrote: "It should be left natural, being that every other square inch of land has been developed in this town it would be nice to have a legit "green space" in Bethel." (www.facebook.com/bethelpatch)
Raymond Robillard September 06, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Paula, I am sad to hear your skepticism for disc golf: a cheap, unique, and inclusive way to enjoy the outdoors and get a pretty good workout. I don't know you, so I cannot claim make a claim as to whether or not you have played the game for many years as I have. Therefore, I can only cite my anecdotal evidence of having played upwards of 100 times at various courses all over CT, NY, NJ, RI, and even in Florida. In all of my experiences I have not ONCE seen a person get seriously injured. I have never seen a disc hit a person as it well understood, as it is in regular golf, not to go until the coast is clear. All players I have seen are more than okay sharing the space with people going for leisurely walks with friends or pets. Waiting for others to pass is the norm. A few times I have had a disc get stuck in a tree. In these rare instances, I would use a long fallen branch to gently tap the disc free. To cite the injury of a person who was foolish enough to climb the tree to retrieve a very inexpensive disc as a reason why the game should not be supported, is akin to saying that we should do away with houses because occasionally some idiot burns theirs down. Furthermore, it is shocking to me that because "an online search of disc golf injuries" provided a few hits you see the game as unsafe. We must realize that the internet does collect information from the entire face of this globe and that no matter how obscure the search, you will find some hits. To verify this belief of mine I found hits of tragic tales with my google searches of "tea sipping injuries", "sleeping injuries", and my personal favorite, "breathing injuries". Another question, and again, I am not you and don't know you, so I have to ask. Are you aware of the difference between Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf? When you said, " watch the high speed game on youtube videos" my very first thought was, "she has to be confusing the two(a common misconception amongst people who have not played either). By contrast, Ultimate Frisbee is a high speed game involving a disc and should not be played in an area with people passing through. This is not what the town is suggesting. If my understanding of your message is as inaccurate as I believe your understanding of the game of disc golf is, I would be more than happy to continue a civil discussion with you on this forum. I look forward to yours and others feedback and will go on record as being a strong proponent for this fantastic game.
efiddes September 07, 2013 at 10:53 AM
What was the intention if the Franc family concerning this land? Would actual open space, left alone land be such a bad thing? Can that golf game not be played on other fields in town? I know nothing about out,just asking? Multi-use has to include everyone. Too small to be off interest for horses. Hunters are on most larger open parcels. Gun season is relatively short. No hunting on Sundays. I am not a hunter,but their interests are also part of multi-use.
Don Warfield September 08, 2013 at 07:37 AM
@Paula, Unfortunately I am on the road this week so feel free to include the issues that I raised in my various responses and the Patch's Post into the minutes of the meeting. In regard to disc golf, how it was described at the first meeting does not coincide as to the video, etc. Perhaps some of your fellow committee members are pushing for it as I am assume that at least one committee member wants the property to be razed and turned into a golf course. I personally do not like that idea but I do respect the suggestion. While you have gone back and forth with Raymond, at least you made an attempt to address your concerns with him and Raymond with you. Good luck.
efiddes September 08, 2013 at 07:44 AM
Can't go either, but please feel free to print email and bring if you need input. Think other open fields could be used for golf game. Dog park great,but has to be fenced from rest of park. nature center in woods and garden on some of the fields would be in keeping with ag use.
efiddes September 08, 2013 at 08:06 AM
Is there an email address we can send input? No different than mailing letter,but quicker given time constraints.
efiddes September 09, 2013 at 06:25 AM
I have no issue with the hunters. I have co-existed with them all these years. They help reduce the deer population. They are also entitled to pursue their sport. Bow hunters re almost never involved in accidents. They hunt dawn/dusk,and have to have close,clear sight line. But I am not trying to start a debate on hunting. I realize feelings and emotions run high on the subject.
Frances O'Neill September 09, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Although not mentioned in the proposed uses, I am assuming that hiking is included. I would also like to suggest that Letterboxing and Geocaching be included in the allowed uses. I would also like to suggest that in the interests of safety, a reasonable amount of off-road parking be allowed (gravel not paved, please).
efiddes September 09, 2013 at 04:27 PM
I use both Huntington and many Redding trails during bow season. In fact, Redding extended the bow season. There are signs indicating the dates of the hunting season.In over 30+ years on those trails, i have never had a problem. I at no ti me tried to start an argument with you Paula.The level of anger in your response does not encourage open conversation. I understand you feel strongly.
Bill Hillman September 09, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Paula, safety is important, and hunters have to take a "hunter safety course", but between this and your posts on CAGV (anti freedom gun grabbers), it seems that safety (excuse me SAFETY) seems to be foremost for you on everything. Life has risk, and reasonable safety concerns need to be addressed, but not absolute safety that is impossible to make certain. So many what iffs from you! Oh my, this is a hazard, that's unsafe, what if bow hunters are in one area of a park and they aim wrong. Accidents can happen, but to live in a stifling world where overreaching concerns for one person's view of "safety" (your personal risk assessment) outweighs all of life, you can keep it. Live a little, try something that gets the adrenalin going, you might like it.
Outside Looking In September 10, 2013 at 08:11 PM
While we're building steps so people can walk up a steep hill and a fence to protect people from a steep drop, why don't we be sure to clear off all of the low branches that might poke someone in the eye. What happened to personal accountability? The overbearing and overprotective parents of this day and age never cease to amaze me. Let your kid get a scrap on their knee, it won't kill them.
Don Warfield September 11, 2013 at 07:06 AM
In reference to the use of the property by the handicapped. The Kings Mark report indicated that the soil is not conducive for a community garden. However, above-gound community gardens have been built specifically for the handicapped.
Frances O'Neill September 11, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Paula: I understand your safety concerns, but I consider the Franc property to be a basically benign environment (I am a senior citizen). Other town properties are considerably more hazardous. If you have not had the opportunity, you might consider a hike in Overlook Park, Terre Haute or to Bald Rock, all of which have cliffs and rough terrain. The views from each are spectacular and well worth the rough trails.
Don Warfield September 11, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Connecticut is the 3rd smallest state in the nation and the 4th most densely populated. Despite this, Connecticut ranks third in forest cover and supports a wide variety of wildlife from black bears to Atlantic sturgeon. The challenge of balancing natural resource protection with cultural priorities requires smart planning and an informed and committed public. The most significant threats to Connecticut’s land and waterscapes include habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation from development; changes in land use; and competition from non-native, invasive species and public indifference toward conservation. In reading the various posts on Bethel Patch and having attended one committee meeting, it appears that the committee is only charged to solicit suggestions from the citizens of Bethel what activities they wish the Franc property to be used for and make recommendations to the administration. There seems to be a range of ideas,; some that would have minimal if any ecological impact, others, a significant ecological transformation. As with most committees, individual personal committee preference to the suggested uses can and often outweigh the good ones. At the end of the process though, I trust and I think that the citizens of Bethel will demand that whatever administration is in place, that the administration will have an open discussion regarding the recommendations that it makes.
Outside Looking In September 11, 2013 at 05:32 PM
This is hilarious. My age is of no concern to you. Just as a little FYI...you mentioned that the Franc Property is relatively small compared to the parks that Frances mentioned. Overlook park is about half the size of the Franc property (38 acres). Surprisingly enough a nieghborhood of homes surround Overlook Park as well. You come across as a whiney child that isn't getting their way. Step back and realize that perhaps you're in the minority if other commission members don't respond to your ideas (as you mentioned above).

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