A month or so ago, Lancaster was setting up for it’s weekly Wednesday play (I’m going to be dramatizing this a bit, as I was not there at the time). They set up the lights, the moon shining off of Kruse’s skin enough that they questioned whether they were really necessary at all, and play commenced.[I’m not really sure Nick Kruse was there, I just wanted to that same joke as much as possible.]
However, a local law enforcement officer official came by and, unlike interactions with other police officer men before, commented that we really shouldn’t be playing at night unless we have permission, as the park is a dawn-to-dusk sort of place.
And, of course, he was exactly right.
And here are some lessons on what to do when that happens, dear readers:
1. Instead of putting up a huge fight or simply ignoring the warning, Lancaster United said “ok, officer,” and shut down for the night. We then created an email chain to discuss what happened and next steps.
2. Next, it was decided that the best people/person to approach would be the Township, so after a somewhat extensive series of emails back and forth within the club’s current leadership, I called them up. I was told the guy I needed to speak to was out, and I could leave a message (which I did with my authoritative-but-not-a-jerk voice).
3. The township man called me back and I was nice as a hobbit can be to him. I explained we were at fault–I explained that we’d been using the court for years and that we made the goals that stand there now. I talked about how much we clean the area and keep the rink in good order. He was very impressed with all this, and then told him our problem.
He was already receptive to the idea of helping us, as out of everyone who used the rink, we were apparently the only ones who actually cared about it.
4. After he told me he’d bring it up with the committee to decide on, I left him alone for a week, and then called.
And then called again the week after.
And then called again the week after that.
And then once more during the next week.
Each and every time, I did so with courtesy, graciousness, and understanding. After all, we are such a tiny concern for a guy who needs to explain why snow isn’t being cleared/why the fire department doesn’t have enough money/etc.
Eventually (yesterday) I sent him an email, and he asked for a formal request.
5. The formal request was a great opportunity for me to show that we were not just a bunch of kids wanting to bend the rules for the sake of bending the rules. I presented our case, leaving out sport specific language (if he ever asked, of course I’d tell him, but it’s just as easy to not try to describe bike polo).
He loved the request, advised me to come to the meeting when it was discussed (this upcoming week), and told me he’d be reinforcing that this shouldn’t be a very big deal).
So, in summary, what I think we as a club did intelligently:
- Respectful and willing to follow the officer’s warning
- Didn’t try to sneak back to play
- Went through the correct routes to request permission
- Presented what we did for the benefit of the community (fixing up the rink, having goals made, cleaning up trash)
- Willingness to be present at committee meeting to speak directly to decision makers
Where it goes from here? Well, I guess we’ll see how the conversation goes with the committee. But I’m damned sure we aren’t the first club to deal with this, and definitely not the last. We stand to lose Winter Wednesday play, but stand to gain a set time and space for polo as well, so I’m very excited to see how it all plays out.