By Scott Tedrick
Pending approval by the Granite Falls City Council and Park Board, it appears that a frisbee golf course will be available to residents and visitors very soon.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the cities of Granite Falls and Montevideo had received a $20,000 Blue?Cross/Blue Shield Connect for Health Challenge grant submitted on behalf of the two communities by Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), headquartered in Montevideo.
The grant involved a request for funds to install new frisbee golf courses and canoe/kayak accesses along riverside city parks within each of the two towns. The amount of money that will be designated for each project has yet to be set in stone, but is expected to go toward materials, signage and design expense that might be associated with the projects.
Locally, Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization member Steve Virnig has spearheaded the frisbee golf effort on behalf of the community organization, holding public meetings and bringing in Derek Tonn of Springfield company, Mapformation, LLC., to draw up the initial course design.
Virnig, who is the owner of F&M?Insurance, said that he has been a frisbee golf enthusiast ever since he was introduced to it while living in California at the age of 18. He noted that there are nearly 200 frisbee golf courses within the state of Minnesota, but that there is a dearth of the courses in western Minnesota. The course in Granite Falls would accompany others now being planned in Clarkfield, Montevideo and Appleton.
“When you’re 18 and you have something free and it’s fun, your there,” he said.
Prelim-inary designs would place the 9-hole course in Rice Park adjacent to the Minnesota River. Virnig said that it has been laid out in a fashion that takes into account safety, placing course holes out of the path of the existing park.
According to Granite Falls Community Ed. Director and Park Board Chair Tim Knapper, the park board had looked at establishing a frisbee golf course in the past but found itself to be prohibited by funding and space. The latest design differs in that it would involve extending current Rice Park space through the removal of some ground cover within park boundaries.
“Everybody is in favor of seeing it somewhere in town and if it works in Rice Park that would be awesome,” said Knapper, speaking on behalf the board. “I’ve been very impressed with the work of Steve.”
Taking up the torch for improvements to the portage just upstream of the Granite Falls Dam has been Chamber of Commerce Director Nicole Zempel. Zempel says that ever since the city installed a new flood wall and erosion inhibiting rip rap the portage has become arduous and unfriendly.
Page 2 of 2 - “People have slipped and cut themselves on the large rip rap rocks, additionally, there is a hill to scale followed by a flood wall,” said Zempel. “ I've also received phone calls and emails at the Chamber of visitors who paddle the Minnesota River and feel that the portage is not only not user friendly, but not safe. This is something we need to fix and make much more user friendly and safe if we are to continue promoting our wonderful river recreational opportunity along our stretch of the Minnesota River.”
According to information from Blue Cross Shield a total of 386 grant entries were submitted from across Minnesota, with only 22 being selected to receive the total $510,000 issued for grants.
Virnig said that he expects quality frisbee golf course materials to cost $5,200.