It was his love for the game that got Eric Eaton thinking that Oak Park Heights could use a disc golf course.
Eaton, 24, floated the idea to city leaders during his interview for an internship at city hall. He got the job and, eventually, the green light from City Council members to build the course at Brekke Park.
Now the Hamline University graduate student is pushing hard to install the nine-hole disc golf course before his internship officially ends on Aug. 29.
"It's been a long process, getting sponsors and all the equipment," he said. "It's been good for me to see how much goes into a [city] project, even on a small scale."
For the uninitiated, the popular sport of disc golf is sometimes called the common man's golf, played by people of all ages. But instead of swinging a club at a golf ball, players fling Frisbee-like discs into "baskets" tied to poles. There are scores of courses all over the metro area, but none in the Stillwater-Bayport-Oak Park Heights area, city officials said.
Eaton became a fan when he was a teenager growing up in Eau Claire, Wis. "I've been disc golfing since I was old enough to drive to the course," he said. "It's kind of been a passion of mine."
He continued playing while he was at St. Cloud State University, earning his bachelor's degree in public administration. He's working on his master's degree in the same field now and said he hopes to become a city administrator one day.
The disc golf course was just one of many projects that Eaton worked on during his internship, said his boss, city administrator Eric Johnson. City leaders liked the idea of having a disc golf course in Oak Park Heights, Johnson said, because it's low maintenance and relatively inexpensive.
The estimated budget for the course is about $10,000, Johnson said, and the city has received about $4,000 from sponsors.
"It's just one more amenity that we can offer at our parks," Johnson said. "It's certainly something that families can all do together, for free, to get outside a little."
Brekke Park, near Omar Avenue, is one of five city parks. The new disc golf course will be in a wooded area of the park on land recently acquired by the city, Johnson said.
"If the city ever decides to put some trails in, that will be a good connecting system with our trail system," he said. "It should all blend together well."
Eaton said he originally designed the course to go around the park's baseball field. But the designs were revised to avoid having flying discs interfere with baseballs and soccer balls. The opening date hasn't been set, but Johnson said city hall will have the discs available for families to borrow and use in the park.
Would Eaton like to see the course named after him?
"For now, we're going with just Brekke Park," he said, laughing.
Allie Shah • 651-298-1550