I met with with new SLVUSD superintendent Chris Schiermeyer on Tuesday, July 13th, and came away feeling very encouraged and optimistic that we can forge a path to reopening Black Mouse. It’ll take some work and a sincere commitment to abide by all school rules, but I think it can be done.
I’ve listed a summary of the salient information Chris shared in brief bullet points, followed by what we would need to do, and what comes next.
- To start on a positive note, Chris said more than once that there is not one single board member who is firmly opposed to reopening the course. He also said he is aware of how many local families use and highly value the course, including several key district employees.
- The main reason the course has remained closed without discussion for the past six months has been work on the wastewater treatment system. Nitrogen levels are not within state regulations, and they need to redo the ponds and work on the leach fields. He also said they have a plan that once approved by the state should not take long to execute and complete.
- There are indeed homeowners who live near Black Mouse determined to permanently close the course, and these people have supplied district officials with pictures and video that clearly show disc golfers violating the rules that prohibit smoking, alcohol, drug use, and use of the course during school hours.
- The main reason the district would consider closing the course permanently is the drain on their resources; specifically administrators having to listen to and respond to complaints about disc golfers, and maintenance staff having to clean up trash and even feces(?!) left by disc golfers who park along the entrance road to the middle school parking lot.
- I want to emphasize this point: Chris said most complaints involve people parking where they shouldn’t, outside the middle school gate, and loitering loudly before and after rounds, then leaving garbage there.
- Someone retrieved “4 or 5” baskets claiming he paid for them himself. Does anyone know who this might be?
After Chris shared his list of issues and concerns about Black Mouse I presented some possible solutions. He liked all of them and even suggested one himself. The total list is as follows:
- Form a more official club, with a board of directors, officers, regular meetings, and a charter than includes the primary objectives of providing recreational disc golf opportunities in the SLV areas and maintaining a good relationship with the school district. This club would be the official link between the district and the disc golf community, and would be ultimately responsible for ensuring all disc golfers obey school ground rules.
- Change all online course listings. We need to make sure all rules are clearly stated in all course directory listings (or have the course removed from all listings), and make sure everything possible is done to deter players from parking in the wrong places.
- Create and install clear, unavoidable signage placed throughout the course that make the rules clear, as well as the fact that the district, school, and club all insist upon their strict adherence. Also, we need to fund the signage ourselves.
- Create a volunteer schedule to occasionally patrol the course and pick up trash at the end of weekends so school maintenance staff doesn’t show up Monday to a mess made (presumably) by disc golfers. This one was Chris’s suggestion. Hopefully we can change this disgusting practice by visitors; if we don’t, the course will be closed again soon after reopening anyway. But we should be willing to monitor the situation closely and clean up if necessary.
- Perhaps most importantly, those of us considered to be Black Mouse locals or regulars need to set the example in following all rules, and politely but firmly remind anyone we see that it’s either follow the rules or the course gets closed. This doesn’t mean “being discreet.” It means No Smoking, No Drugs, No Alcohol, No Playing During School Hours, and No Parking by the Middle School. Period.
This is the path to reopening Black Mouse.
I agreed to let the Superintendent know if the disc golf community agrees to these conditions, after which he would work to get a similar commitment from the board of directors.
So that’s where we’re at. I’d like to hear from y’all. What do you think? Can we do this?