The city of Litchfield is exploring location and costs for a proposed disc golf course.

For the second time in a year, the Litchfield City Council heard about disc golf at its meeting June 19.

The sport, which involves tossing discs into baskets mounted on poles, has become popular in central Minnesota in recent years, with parks in Hutchinson, St. Cloud and Atwater offering disc golf as a recreational option. Disc golf leagues have formed in those communities as well.

Shane Cruze and Tim Mackie presented their views on how the acreage of Youngstrom Woods Park, a few miles southwest of town, would make a suitable natural site for the sport in the Litchfield area. They sought the council’s blessing to proceed with fundraising to help build such a course, which Mackie has helped design in other locations.

The park is about three miles out of town in a heavily wooded area and features walking trails, according to Public Works Supervisor Chadd Benson. Although some clearing of invasive species and other brush would be needed, Cruze and Mackie did not think any mature trees would need to be taken down.

In other communities, Cruze and Mackie said, service clubs helped fund equipment for the sport.

Council members had questions about how much maintenance, such as mowing, is needed for disc golf, and whether Youngstrom Woods Park would have sufficient parking to accommodate the number of participants.

After discussing the matter, the council forwarded it to the Finance Committee and city staff to determine how much money might be required for ongoing maintenance, or to make the Youngstrom area suitable for such a sport.

The city also needs to hear from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regarding whether the sport is a suitable activity for this location. The council also discussed possibly starting with a nine-hole course and eventually expanding to a full-sized 18-hole course. Mackie and Cruze were asked to return to the council with updates on any fundraising.

The council also discussed developing a fee schedule for the city, including modifying the city’s park dedication fee, which is charged to new residential lots, so that it could also be used to help fund and develop trails.

City planner Hannah Rybak developed a fee schedule after reviewing current fees and comparing them to fees charged in nearby cities and the new schedule was unanimously approved, contingent on determining if a park fee could also be legally used to develop bike and walking trails within the city. That fee would be $1,000 per new lot.

LIQUOR STORE TO BE OPEN SUNDAYS

The council decided to allow Litchfield’s municipal liquor store to be open on Sundays, since state law now permits it, effective July 1. The city administrator and liquor store staff will set and adjust the hours based on availability of staff, but it appears that the new hours will tentatively be 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. for Sunday sales.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

  • The council granted an interim use permit to Kristina Olson to operate a special event center on agricultural property on County Road 11. The property lies within the city’s extraterritorial administration zone.
  • The council discussed developing a written policy for tax increment finance, or TIF, districts. Tax increment financing is a state program in which businesses seeking to expand, particularly in blighted areas, receive temporary property tax relief based on the value and benefits of new construction to help pay for city infrastructure required by the expansion. In the past, TIF districts (only one TIF district in Litchfield is currently active) have been dealt with on a case-by-case basis, depending on the criteria of the applying business. City Adminstrator Dave Cziok indicated a written policy for economic development projects such as TIF would make the process more clear for businesses seeking to expand or to relocate in Litchfield.

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