Walking down the entrance road of Camp Hawk Saturday, one could see cars from multiple counties parked on either side of the road — there was something afoot. That morning, about 80 disc golf players started their day clustered around tents and tables, preparing to play in a tournament.
There were cheers for unique team names as they prepared for play — however, there was, during the tournament, also a bit of a somber tone. The course being played Saturday could cease to exist.
“I'm not sure what the whole situation is,” said Zack Donald of Lyons. “But, disc golf changed my life. Meeting people like these — everyone loves everyone. You love the person with you. I was in a terrible position in my life, did not know where I was going and then met people like this who do the right things and love being in nature and competing.”
What he knows is limited — he heard a brief description of the situation from tournament organizers before play began Saturday.
The short version is Camp Hawk could be going up for sale after a decision by the county commission.
“That park is the most accessible park, and most accessible greenspace to the highest number of harvey county residents,” said Brandon Nelson, an organizer of the disc golf tournament. “It is accessible and usable. … I don't believe it should be sold, divided up with short term thinking.”
Nelson announced Saturday the issue is “bigger than disc golf” as he addressed players who were preparing to try and win a trophy constructed, in part, from hedgewood cuttings from Camp Hawk.
“Camp Hawk deserves a voice, and I would request that we give it that voice wth a vote,” Nelson said
There is, however, t's to cross before a sale — or a public vote — can occur. The county published a legal notice of the possible sale Sept. 23. The final legal notice is set for Oct. 7. The first publication of the notice opened up a 45-day protest period.
Saturday the protest was a topic of discussion. According to tournament organizers, a request for a protest petition has been filed. That petition was not available for signatures Saturday. According to the legal notice, at least two percent of registered voters in Harvey County must sign the peition to force a public vote.
It was clear Saturday that the disc golf community will likely take the lead for protest of the sale.
“Fishermen and people who use the building, don;t know each other,” Nelson said. “They don't congregate.”
There is also one 4-H club that meets at the park monthly.
Portions of the park — most notably the dam creating the small lake and a house once used by Park Rangers — have fallen into disrepair. The county spends about twice as much on maintenance for the park as it brings in from revenue. To be specific, in 2014 the county brought in about $7,000 in rental fees, while paying about $14,000 in maintenance and upkeep, according to numbers given at a county commission meeting.
“The things that are run down out there, none of them are time sensitive,” Nelson said. “People are using and loving Camp Hawk the way it is now. We'er not asking for money, or more amenities.”
Saturday donations for the support of the tournament, and for work needed for the course, were announced.
Park Ranger Kass Miller told the Kansan Sept. 19 that the park has brought in $11,364.84 in revenues for 2016, while costing the department $24,052.91 in expenses. For the year of 2015, the park cost $26,901.28 while bringing in $15,954.69.
The park contains a home, a community building, an open picnic shelter, playground, basketball court, baseball field and small fishing lake. Due to the problems with the dam and spillway, the lake is no longer stocked.
“My main concern as a citizen, and as a member of the parks board, is that this is our most accessible park,” said Brittany Welch. Welch serves on the Harvey County Parks Advisory Board, she also helps organize disc golf tournaments at the park. “Everything at this park is low cost of entry. … This park is the most accessable location wise. It would be a huge loss for Newton and Harvey County.”