|A graphic outlines the design for a proposed miniature golf course to be built at the Carbon County Fairgrounds.|
The county youth commission along with mentors Anne Mackiewicz and Greg Cowan recently met with the Carbon travel and recreation special service district to propose the building of an 18-hole miniature golf course.
The course would be owned by the county, operated via lease agreement by a private concessionaire and located next to the parking lot near the softball fields at the fairgrounds.
The youth commission is a group of between 13 to 15 Carbon County teenagers from the 10th through 12th grade who are selected each year based on leadership skills and personal merit. From the group, three teens are chosen to represent the youth commission.
According to the proposal presented to the special service district, the teenage commissioners completed an intensive survey of Carbon County youth in 2004, including all students from seventh to 12th grade. In the survey, youth were asked for their thoughts and ideas for recreational opportunities locally.
"It was important to the youth that they go after what their constituency wanted," said Mackiewicz.
The number one request was for a paintball course. However, the youth commission was informed by the county that a paintball facility would be part of the new gun range.
Upon hearing about the inclusion of the paintball facility at the gun range, the youth commission choose to address the second preference identified by local teens - the addition of miniature golf course to the area.
For the following year, the youth group researched possible locations and with the help of the county commission decided on the fairgrounds.
After gathering the information, the next step was to secure an estimate and plan, which was completed in October 2006 with Harris Miniature Golf Courses of New Jersey.
According to Mackiewicz, a decision was then made by the youth commission to pursue the building of the facility.
Contacts were made with various contractors for bids on electrical, plumbing, fill dirt and landscape work which would not be completed by Harris.
The special service district expressed support for the project and referred the youth group back to the county commission. The special service district pointed out that, since the county would own the facility, the Carbon commission should make decisions concerning how the project would be funded.
The goals outlined by the proposal include:
Providing recreational activity for all residents and visitors to enjoy.
The proposed course would be built with the America Disability Act's standards for acceptability on 9 of the 18 holes.
Providing a healthy choice for youth to participate in, thereby decreasing drug and alcohol use.
Exposing new guests of Carbon County to the many wonders of the region through tournaments.
Work with other local businesses, the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce and local travel bureau to promote the varying recreation venues available in the area.
The youth group took the proposal back to the county commission as recommended by the service district and came away with two challenges.
First, the Carbon commission wanted the county to conduct a scientific research study on the community's affinity for a miniature golf course.
Second, the commissioners would like to find a qualified concessionaire to run the facility before the county moved ahead with possible funding options.
"I have some concerns about the economic viability of the project," said Carbon Commissioner Mike Milovich. "However, if the community wants it and is willing to support it with tax dollars then it is something the commission will move forward with," Milovich continued.
A survey of 448 students conducted by the youth group showed that more than one-half of the local teenagers indicated that they would use a miniature golf course at least one to two times per week, based on a $5 to $8 fee per round.
Because of the survey data, the youth group feels that the project will have an ongoing benefit for the community. The report stipulates that the course would become a well- known and used establishment in the local community, with opportunities provided for tournament play.
Harris promotes a national miniature golf tournament yearly and uses different courses the company has designed, which would give Carbon County the opportunity to be one of the locations.
The youth group was told by the county commissioners that an independent scientific study would be conducted and a request for proposal would be made public for the concessionaire's position.
Upon completion of the data gathering process, the youth commission will be notified by the county officials and, at that time, a funding package could be developed in order to move forward with the project.