The popular Westchester Lagoon disc golf course will be closed for the summer.
City officials say the decision was spurred by a rash of reports last summer of drug and alcohol use and fights on the nine-hole course, which wraps around the much-used multipurpose trails at Westchester Lagoon and the Chester Creek trail.
"We were getting a lot of negative responses," said Josh Durand, a planner and landscape architect for the Anchorage Parks and Recreation department who has worked closely with the city's frisbee golf programs.
Late last week, staff pulled up disc golf baskets and posted signs announcing that the course would be closed for "rehabilitation" for the summer of 2012. They plan to add topsoil and grass seed.
City parks officials made the decision to close the disc golf course, which players say can see up to 400-500 rounds of disc golf daily, last fall.
In August, the department sent out a survey asking the public about their experiences after hearing from many unhappy neighbors and users over the summer, Durand said.
"We had a lot of trouble with people drinking and making a lot of noise and the neighbors didn't like it too much," said Anchorage Police Department spokesman Lt. Dave Parker.
They rarely get calls involving the Russian Jack or Kincaid Park courses, he said.
The online survey, which Durand said was advertised on social media and was available to anyone on the Parks and Recreation department's website, only got about 30 responses. Durand said he asked community members -- including a concerned neighbor and a disc golfer -- to read the comments and make recommendations.
The Parks and Recreation Commission decided to go with disc golfer Tim Kosednar's idea of making Westchester a winter-only course and potentially expanding or opening additional courses throughout Anchorage for the summer season.
"We think it's a definite asset," Durand said. "We really didn't want to see it be taken away."
Next summer the city may make the Westchester course open for permitted events, like organized disc golf competitions, Durand said. The city is also looking into expanding other existing disc golf courses at Russian Jack Park and Kincaid Park.
Matt Forney, the former president of the Alaska Disc Golf Association, said he's disappointed by the move.
He said that if the police had done a better job of controlling drug and alcohol use the closure might never have happened.
The Westchester course was already redesigned in 2010, he said. Volunteers poured in 1,000 hours of work on that project.
What's to say, he asked, that if another course -- like Kincaid -- is expanded, disc golfers won't be chased out of there too?
The public process didn't seem very public to him, he said.
"I sure as heck didn't receive notification of this public meeting," he said.
On Monday, a handful of disc golfers played an improvised version of the game without baskets on still-soggy ground at the park.
Andrew Essex, a carpenter, was with a group of five friends.
He said he'd seen some of the rowdy behavior the city cited on the course, but it didn't seem threatening or even unusual.
"I've definitely seen people drinking and smoking but I've seen people doing that on any random trail," he said.
To him the closure seemed unnecessary.
"You can't limit everything because there's always going to be at least a couple of people that screw it up," he said.
On a cloudless spring day, he was just happy to be walking around outside -- the true appeal of disc golf, he said.
And he bet that not a few others would find creative ways to keep playing through the summer, aiming, as he was, at trees and garbage cans.
"As long as you come up with something to throw (discs) at, people are still going to do it," he said.
Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4344.