Disc golf rejected for McHenry’s Cold Springs Park – again – as conservation group set to help with cleanup

McHenry will look for another park for disc golf

Cold Springs Park, McHenry

Cold Springs Park in McHenry is not getting a disc golf course, but a plan to make it usable is now on the table.

The park, donated to the city in 1994 but otherwise largely undeveloped since, became a hotspot of debate in 2009 when council approved a disc golf course for the site and later reversed its vote, citing cost.

On Monday night, a new proposal to bring disc golf to the park was presented to the McHenry City Council from the McHenry County Disc Golf Stewards.

But theirs was not the only idea. Following the disc golf presentation, newly-formed Friends of Cold Springs Park shared its own proposal.

Working with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, the friends groups would restore the park, its wetlands and its overgrown trails.

By the end of Monday’s meeting – and with an unofficial show of hands – the council indicated city staff should move forward with the land conservancy plan and find another suitable location in McHenry for disc golf.

An official agreement would come back to a future council meeting for a vote.

“We win by collaborating with the private sector ... for a site that is suitable” for disc golf, 7th Ward Alderwoman Sue Miller said. “I hear everyone’s voice.”

The park, north of Dartmoor Drive and east of Crystal Lake Road, is mostly wetlands, springs and some wooded areas, Iver Johnson said. He presented council with the new Friends of Cold Springs Park plan and lives in the adjacent subdivision.

“The park has been neglected, I think we all agree with that.”

—  Iver Johnson, Friends of Cold Springs Park

“The park has been neglected, I think we all agree with that,” Johnson said. “The majority of the area is wetlands. There is no way to put a golf course in Cold Springs Park without messing with the wetlands ... and ultimately destroying them.”

According to their timeline and under land conservancy leadership, volunteers would remove non-native trees and bushes, reconnect the wetland areas, complete hiking and biking trails, and clean up an upland area by creating a pollinator meadow.

The conservatory and friends of the park would also pursue grants to cover restoration cost, the plan reads.

The council’s nod to the park’s native restoration came with a promise to find a spot for disc golf too.

A group of players and advocates again approached Parks and Recreation in 2022 with ideas for a disc golf course in the park, director Bill Hobson said.

The disc golf group again proposed Cold Springs as a possible location because it was available. “I am open to other locations,” Crystal Lake resident Mike Castiglione said. He presented the disc golf idea to council.

According to Northwest Herald stories at the time, residents in the nearby Park Ridge Estates neighborhood protested the 2009 plan, and costs ballooned with the need for a parking lot.

This time around, the course was designed to work around the wetlands, Castiglione said. “Disc golf conservation can go hand in hand.”

Hobson has looked at existing McHenry parks and there may be candidates for nine-hole courses, adding that with staggered starting boxes, players could do the course twice for 18 holes.

“The idea is to draw people outside again,” Hobson said.