November 04, 2013MILTON, Ga. – It appears likely cross country runners and aficionados of disc golf may co-exist on the Milton High School cross country trail, after a meeting last week brought all sides together.
More than 1,100 people signed a petition asking officials with Milton High School to stop plans for a disc golf course to be located near the site of the popular running trail used by the Milton High Cross Country Club. The petition cited concerns over safety, security and environmental damage to the trail.
However, during an Oct. 30 meeting called by Milton Principal Cliff Jones, many issues were resolved and members of the Milton Cross Country Booster Club left satisfied their concerns would be considered moving forward.
"Overall, the [booster team] board members believe the meeting was successful," said Joe McGorry, co-president of the Milton Cross Country Booster Club. "An environment for open dialogue was initiated and a plan for a collaborative course design was created. While there is still work to do…Mr. Jones and the disc designer demonstrated a spirit of cooperation that was constructive and sincere."
Milton school officials are considering a request from the Milton Ultimate Frisbee Club to install 12 disc golf baskets along the running trail to connect the course with the six baskets in place across the street at Northwestern Middle School. The additional baskets would create an official 18-hole course.
While the trail is owned by the Fulton County Board of Education (FCBOE), cross country boosters say they have poured thousands of dollars and manpower hours into the course over the past eight years.
"This is a beautiful trail behind the high school, which is used not only by the Milton cross country team, but other Milton teams, other public and private high school cross country teams, Alpha Crush running club, community runners, walkers, dog walkers and nature lovers," said Milton parent Wendy Butzer.
She noted the trail was developed in 2005 without school or county funding and has been maintained through the years by volunteers. The booster club was unaware, she said, of the plans to add disc golf baskets along the trail until a few weeks ago.
Jones said the school received a request last spring from the school's disc golf club to expand the course, and believed talks were held with representatives of the cross country team at that time. However, he recently received a letter from the cross country team, which indicated many members of the booster club may have been unaware of the plans.
"The Cross Country Booster Club [recently] dropped off a letter of concern in regards to the potential sharing of the cross country trail," said Jones. "The thoughtful and thorough letter raised many questions. Ultimately, these questions will need to be answered before moving forward."
After last week's meeting, both sides agreed miscommunication was the source of the conflict and agreed to work together for a resolution.
Jones noted the mission of Milton High School is to provide opportunities for extracurricular activities for all students, and school resources are for the enjoyment of all.
"Just as the school supports the cross country boosters in their support of their children's pursuits, the administration supports the expansion of disc golf on Milton's campus," said Jones. [However] this does not mean that we support the current plan for its expansion."
The cross country team has a current roster of 118 students. About 30 students are involved in the disc golf club.
During last week's meeting, booster club members left confident they would have a seat at the table as decisions are made regarding the trail.
"[Principal] Jones [said] the cross country team will have direct input into the selection of [basket] locations – with the goal that the hole locations and any trail running will have minimum 'cross curricular' activity," said McGorry, in summarizing the meeting.
The course would be reserved for high school players, and availability would be subject to the schedule of the cross country team.
Disc golf, officially known as Ultimate Frisbee, has become a popular sport nationwide since first being introduced on college campuses in the late 1960s. There are now more than 12,000 student athletes playing on more than 700 college teams in North America, however the sport does not have NCAA status.