Tucker, GA — Fifty Tucker residents met at Tucker Recreation Center to hear the city’s plans to bring disc golf and walking trails to Lord Park in Smoke Rise. The June 9 meeting, which was offered only in person, detailed a “low impact” plan to build out a restroom, pavilions and a small playground.
Lord Park is being designed by Andrea Greco and Michael Kidd of Root Design Studio.
“The philosophy that we have in developing these parks is to take a low impact approach, and try to work with the land as much as possible,” said Kidd, quelling residents’ fears that the city was planning to clear cut trees.
Sold by the Lord family to DeKalb County in 2013, Lord Park is 28 acres of undeveloped, wooded land. It is the third largest park in Tucker, said Jason Collins, Parks and Recreation operations manager.
The city took over operation of parks from DeKalb County in 2018, according to Mayor Frank Auman.
“[Parks] were in pretty rough shape … One of the very first things we did was a master parks plan, which basically assessed what we had – how many parks, what size and shape, what sort of condition they were in and their immediate needs,” said Auman.
The master parks plan ranks disc golf as number 11 of 19 facilities desired by residents. Walking and hiking trails are high on the list, while baseball and football fields rank the lowest.
Tucker Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson said outdoor recreation is a priority for residents, and Lord Park was a natural fit for disc golf.
“We began looking at where could we put [disc golf] for the community. As we looked at all the different parks and all the different layouts, we just kept coming back to this piece of property because it’s very low impact. We could put it in without disturbing a lot of the trees,” said Robertson.
Disc golf is similar to traditional golf, played on a 9- or 18-hole course. Using hard frisbees players aim to land their disc into a basket. The sport is typically played in natural, wooded areas.
Several disc golf enthusiasts were in attendance. Tucker resident Gary Budd plays three or four rounds of disc golf each week in Gwinnett County.
“Some of us are here advocating for disc golf, but we’re also here advocating for your neighborhood. We want to take care of your neighborhood and be a part of your community,” said Budd.
John Brieske, 24-year resident of Tucker, said he’s impressed with the city’s plan.
“One of the reasons that people like to play is they want to play beautiful places in the woods. That’s what you do. It’s not a basketball court, it’s not a tennis court. It’s in the woods. And you respect that,” said Brieske.
The first phase is to establish an entrance from Smoke Rise Drive, add nine parking spaces and define soft surface walking trails. An 18-hole disc golf course will come later.
“The intent was not to come in and clear all the trees and build a golf course, so people could throw a frisbee,” said Kidd. “The intent was to have a recreational amenity that we could do in the woods, that would also serve as walking paths through the woods.”
Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson said there is currently no timeline to start the project.
Georgia Lord, who grew up on the land, was in attendance. She was asked how she felt about a disc golf course on the property.
“It wouldn’t be what I would pick, but it’s not my property. My only concern is I hope it doesn’t scare off the deer,” Lord said.
Lord suggested an observation deck for watching wildlife in the creek at the edge of the park.
Ruth and Charlie Lord bought the land in 1958. According to Georgia Lord, the family purchased 50 acres back when Rosser Road was unpaved. After Ruth died at age 83 in October 2008, the land was sold to DeKalb County. Lord Park became city property when Tucker entered cityhood in 2016.
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