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How near is too near (to a school)
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Paklid
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 09 May 2004

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:27 pm    Post subject: How near is too near (to a school) Reply with quote

Here's a posting in a different thread:
Surfer Joe wrote:
DeltaMikeAlpha wrote:
discovering today that a new cache is hidden within spitting distance of a school


If you are referring to GC1G9RE, I was assured that the school was closed and the building put up for sale. If you believe otherwise, or are referring to another cache, please contact me privately.



I know of several parks near where I live that are adjacent to school district property. Many of these have caches in them. From some, you can see the school and/or playground. Are there actually rules in place as would seem to be the case based on Surfer Joe's comments that would prohibit caches in city park land that happens to be adjacent to school district property? Or is it kind of a "I know a bad (meaning too close to the kiddies) placement when I see it" deal even if the actual property is city owned and/or city park land.

Line of sight to a school shouldn't make a location unacceptable. Sometimes line of sight is a half mile or more away. Many times, the city park land is on the other side of soccer fields or baseball fields and as such is quite a distance from the school or playground equipment - but how far away is needed to pass muster?

BTW, I can accept the "I know it when I see it" test. Google Earth usually gives a pretty good idea how the otherwise legal hide area relates to the obvious school buildings and playground equipment.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5708

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although I don't know of a hard and fast number, I would feel very awkward searching within 500' of a school *building or playground* I think.

Schools have a tobacco-free zone around them - I believe it's something like 500', don't they? This would seem like a reasonable number to me.
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Arcticabn
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2003

Posts: 1846

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's whatever SJ says it is.
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spinowner
Geocacher


Joined: 25 Nov 2004

Posts: 587

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

500 feet seems like a pretty long distance to me. This standard would mean that if there is a city park adjacent to a school it could not be used, even if there were a fence or other barrier separating them. And if school playground equipment is off-limits (which it should be) then what about other public playground equipment? Why shouldn't that receive the same consideration?
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DeltaMikeAlpha
Geocacher


Joined: 22 Feb 2006

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to have opened this can of worms but sometimes I wish that there was an attribute that indicates that there is a school nearby. Or at least a warning in the description so a person could know when or when not to look for a cache.

It's pretty obvious too me that it's an individual taste about what is too close. I happen to cache alone a lot for these urban caches as my wife routinely refuses to look for them. Unfortunately a middle aged white male caching alone looks a heck of a lot more suspicious than a husband/wife twosome does. I have been stopped and questioned by the police for caching in a generic city park before. I believe it was because a woman playing on a baseball field with several kids under 8 about 200 yds away didn't like the looks of some guy wandering aimlessly around a couple of pine trees (I know, I know... blame the pine trees!) and called the local police. While I don't mind having to explain myself to local law enforcement, I regret that I made the woman that uncomfortable where she felt the need to leave the park and call the police. I doubt they ever called her back to explain what the reason was. Now I routinely walk away from caches that are placed too close to where kids are playing and I absolutely refuse to look for caches (when I'm alone) that are placed either on playground equipment or near a school. I don't CARE what others do in these situations. Personally I don't care to test the waters so to speak of being detained for loitering near a school.

What's too close to a school? For me, it's always a judgement call. I've walked away from four caches that I felt were too close for MY comfort zone. I have probably found at least that many near schools. I tend to take a pass when it's a highly visible hide location but go for it when the cache is hidden in a large wooded area.

All I would ask is that if a cache is legal but near a school, that the fact is indicated in the description so that fellow cachers are aware of the fact and can act accordingly.
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Surfer Joe
Minnesota Reviewer


Joined: 18 Jan 2006

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you all know from reading the guidelines, the following are off limits... "Caches NEAR, ON or under public structures deemed potential or possible targets for terrorist attacks. These may include but are not limited to highway bridges, dams, government buildings, elementary and secondary schools, and airports." (emphasis added by me)

The way I interpret this in regards to schools is as follows:

I will not knowingly publish a cache that is ON (pre, elementary, middle, or high) school property unless I receive an email from the school principal, using their official school email address, stating that they have given permission for the cache. I have published several caches after such an email was received. Keep in mind that there are often wooded areas next to schools that appear to be separate parks but according to the property tax records are actually part of the same parcel.

NEAR school property is admittedly somewhat arbitrary. I know of some reviewers that will not publish any cache within 528 feet of any school. I tend to be quite a bit more flexible. Basically, I look at the cache location using Google Earth and give it my best judgment. I'm much more leery of caches near elementary schools than those near high schools. If it appears unlikely that someone looking for the cache will be spotted from the school or school grounds and raise suspicions, I'll be more lenient.

Without actually visiting each cache location before publication, I can only give it my best shot using the information I have, either obtained on-line or from familiarity with the area from past personal experience.

SJ
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Arcticabn
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2003

Posts: 1846

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See I told you, What ever SJ says. Very Happy
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stickerooni
Geocacher


Joined: 30 Nov 2007

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To whom do we report, though, if we find one that just feels 'wrong'? I know of a nano on a street sign across the street from an elementary school. I felt a little weird doing it, but did so only because it was summer and no signs of kids around. I don't know how people are still doing it.
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bflentje
Geocacher


Joined: 29 May 2006

Posts: 4056

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stickerooni wrote:
To whom do we report, though, if we find one that just feels 'wrong'? I know of a nano on a street sign across the street from an elementary school. I felt a little weird doing it, but did so only because it was summer and no signs of kids around. I don't know how people are still doing it.


Technically you'd report it to our reviewer Surfer Joe. But I'd hate for everyone to start "turning in" caches because it doesn't "feel" good. Sounds kind of crispy crunchy to me.
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spinowner
Geocacher


Joined: 25 Nov 2004

Posts: 587

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've reported two clearly illegal hides to SJ (affixed to a mailbox in each case). In theory reviewers should catch this sort of thing and decline to approve the cache when it is submitted but in one of these two cases the hider had apparently misrepresented the hiding place. In the other case it turned out that an earlier finder had moved it from its original hiding spot. I knew reporting them was the right thing to do because it is essential to the integrity of the sport that caches are hidden properly but I still felt like a tattletale doing it. If a cache is legal but "feels wrong" I'm more inclined to comment about it in the log or geomail the owner. I think it's inappropriate and impractical to fill up SJ's inbox with every little complaint.
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bflentje
Geocacher


Joined: 29 May 2006

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spinowner wrote:
I've reported two clearly illegal hides to SJ (affixed to a mailbox in each case). In theory reviewers should catch this sort of thing and decline to approve the cache when it is submitted but in one of these two cases the hider had apparently misrepresented the hiding place. In the other case it turned out that an earlier finder had moved it from its original hiding spot. I knew reporting them was the right thing to do because it is essential to the integrity of the sport that caches are hidden properly but I still felt like a tattletale doing it. If a cache is legal but "feels wrong" I'm more inclined to comment about it in the log or geomail the owner. I think it's inappropriate and impractical to fill up SJ's inbox with every little complaint.


The problem with tattling is that EVERYONE has a different definition of right, wrong, and in between. And even though EVERYONE thinks that THEY are right, that a lot of times isn't the case. Unless I DNF a cache several times, a cache clearly gone missing with many other DNFs and low ratings and cache owner fails to respond, only then will I do an SBA.

Although, I did accidentally get a cache archived once that was hidden on Lock and Dam property. I was trying to justify my new hide near the Hastings lock and dam and I spilled the details about the other one up stream.
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spinowner
Geocacher


Joined: 25 Nov 2004

Posts: 587

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3312

As SJ unequivocally stated in the thread linked to above, mailboxes are off limits. Period. This is not someone's individual definition of what's right or wrong. That's why he orders the removal of a cache attached to a mailbox if he finds one, and that's why I feel it's my responsibility to notify him if I find one. This is the only type of illegal hide I have reported even though I have found numerous others that I feel are illegal. If SJ were to list any other specific illegal hides he wants reported to him it would be negligence on my part not do it. The reviewer's interpretation of the rules is the one I go by, not mine or anyone else's. Allowing illegal hides does nothing good for geocaching, and in fact this is exactly the type of thing that leads to government agencies unilaterally restricting or banning geocaching in their jurisdictions, and none of us wants that.
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stickerooni
Geocacher


Joined: 30 Nov 2007

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spinowner wrote:
http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3312
Allowing illegal hides does nothing good for geocaching, and in fact this is exactly the type of thing that leads to government agencies unilaterally restricting or banning geocaching in their jurisdictions, and none of us wants that.


Bingo. But let's face it; it's not just the illegal ones, but ones that really don't need to be where they are. It seems like when someone new gets into geocaching, they get excited and start putting little micros all over creation. Great ... I can add to my numbers, but is it doing a service to anyone? Sure I can dig another micro out of the posts on a street sign, but why? Is that what geocaching is about?
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Arcticabn
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2003

Posts: 1846

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stickarooni,

There are those that play this sport that only want to do urban caches. For what it is worth, there are cachers out there that don't want to walk in the woods. They enjoy the sport but would rather walk around downtown finding micro in signs then walking through Battle Creek Park.

To each their own on this game. If you look at the cache page you can make your own decision whether you want to go after it or not. In most cases micros in signs do not impact the ability of anyone to put a regular in the woods some place.

Just a thought.
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bflentje
Geocacher


Joined: 29 May 2006

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spinowner wrote:
http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3312

As SJ unequivocally stated in the thread linked to above, mailboxes are off limits. Period. This is not someone's individual definition of what's right or wrong. That's why he orders the removal of a cache attached to a mailbox if he finds one, and that's why I feel it's my responsibility to notify him if I find one. This is the only type of illegal hide I have reported even though I have found numerous others that I feel are illegal. If SJ were to list any other specific illegal hides he wants reported to him it would be negligence on my part not do it. The reviewer's interpretation of the rules is the one I go by, not mine or anyone else's. Allowing illegal hides does nothing good for geocaching, and in fact this is exactly the type of thing that leads to government agencies unilaterally restricting or banning geocaching in their jurisdictions, and none of us wants that.


I didn't mean the difference between legal and illegal. I was hoping my post was clear when I mentioned that I was more or less worried about what a cacher "feels" is right or wrong. Anything that is spelled out I have no problem with. What I do have a problem with is people who use their feelings to make decisions. Just because they have a problem with the wheres and hows a cache is hidden does not necessarily make it wrong.
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