Citizen voices concern about park's future

Photo by Emily Hawk/Pella ChronicleNew police officer Elmer Pearson shakes hands with Mayor James Mueller after citing the Oath of Office.

A citizen voiced concern over the disc golf course being developed at Big Rock Park at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

George Clark, of Pella, formally contested the construction of the course, stating the new development in the park does not align with Pete and Lucille Kuyper’s wishes and stipulations when they entrusted the land to the city on Dec. 16, 1958.

“I am both troubled and concerned with the recent over-development of the park and strongly believe the course that’s being built is in direct conflict with Pete and Lucille Kuyper’s visions of the land,” said Clark.

The 83-acre property was donated to the city by the Kuyper’s with the request that the land primarily be used as a recreational area. Clark read directly from the Kuyper’s “gift letter” to the city, which stated only walking and bridle paths should be built in the park. If shelters were needed, the Kuyper’s requested they be of rustic style.

Clark cited the most important piece of documentation in conjunction with the Kuyper’s letter to the city was a quitclaim deed provided in the council’s minutes at the council meeting in 1958. The deed included explicit steps needed to be taken before building or making modifications to the land.

The deed stated a council meeting to discuss and vote for such purposes must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation in Pella at least once a week for eight weeks. Clark stated the city did not comply with this specific stipulation.

Clark requested construction of the course ceases in order to have further discussion.

City Administrator Mike Nardini contested that legal counsel was consulted before beginning the project in 2017, and no conflicts or concerns were presented. Ten out of 18 holes have already been completed, and Nardini stated a volunteer group has already donated money to the project.

Council members were open to having further discussion at a future meeting about Clark’s concerns and requested legal counsel be present.

In other news:

- Mayor James Mueller signed a proclamation declaring the week of June 2 as National Garden Week in Pella.

- New police officer Elmer Pearson was welcomed to the community by citing the Oath of Office.

- Council has officially begun accepting bids for the Oost Port Alley Water and Sanitary Sewer project. A bid-letting date has been set for June 20, and a public hearing will be held on July 2.