The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Belmont citizens run to save Crystal Springs Cross Country Course

The future of the Crystal Springs Cross Country Course is threatened by the BHCIA
Sienna Reinders
Varsity boys race at the 2021 Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) Championships at Crystal Springs. “This is my favorite course to run on,” said Jono Sison, a participant in the varsity boys race.

PAL races, invitationals, and league and regional championships are a yearly occurrence at the Crystal Springs Cross country course in Belmont. However, the long-beloved course may soon close its gates, preventing any future meets from being held there. 

Since 2019, disputes about the openness of the course have taken place. But despite three meetings in 2021 alone, a decision still has not been made. 

While most Belmont citizens, including Mayor Charles Stone, believe the course should stay open, a select few have begun speaking on behalf of Belmont Heights to advocate for its closure. 

The Belmont Heights Civic Improvement Association (BHCIA) believes the traffic and parking issues that arise on meet days are a threat to the safety of residents. In addition, Stone mentioned a remark the BHCIA had made, saying they believed the buses bringing in racers were putting excess pollution into the air. 

However, Stone believes the danger of closure is minimal.

“There is no imminent threat to the course,” Stone said. 

Bill Kurtz, the Vice President of the BHCIA, brought up the inconvenience of the location of the course. “The only entrance to the course is through our neighborhood. Every visitor has to drive past the mile of homes up the hill to the course entrance,” he said during a meeting for the Board of Trustees.

However, many citizens have become frustrated with the BHCIA, as they are not representing the opinions of the entire Belmont Heights community.

“The Belmont Heights Civic Improvement Association is not an official homeowner’s association; it is not full membership of the neighborhood,” said Carol Lin, a resident of Belmont Heights, in the same meeting. “I think our community as a whole [loves] the course.”

The course was designed in 1971 by Bob Rush. It was initially created for the College of San Mateo as a home cross country course and a training site. However, in recent years, its primary usage has been by high schools and middle schools, which use the course for meets. 

In the fall of 2019, the College of San Mateo attempted to terminate the license with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) because of their infrequent course usage. This decision instigated arguments about whether or not to close the course. 

Many citizens, including coaches and athletes, are devastated at the thought of losing their beautiful course.

“It’s our home course, and without it, we won’t have a good place to train. It’s also the prettiest course I’ve run at, making the races there even more fun,” said Katie Peacock, a freshman on the Carlmont cross country team.

Penny Heith, a senior on the Carlmont team, also explained her love for the course. “As a senior, I’ve run the Crystal Springs cross country course many times,” Heith said. “We are lucky to have such a great course in the area.”

John Lilygren, the coach of the Carlmont cross country team, feels strongly against closing the course, calling it a “local jewel.” 

“It would be criminal if it were shut down,” Lilygren said. “The course was created in 1971, so most of the neighbors moved in after it was created. They knew – or should have known – the area they were buying into.”

A further report about the fate of the course will happen in January. Despite the divided feelings of the community, Stone remains optimistic that the course will remain open. 

“There really aren’t that many people who want it shut down,” Stone said. “The BHCIA seems like a big group, but in reality, it’s just a small subset of people. Most people are in favor of keeping the course open.”

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About the Contributor
Sienna Reinders
Sienna Reinders, Highlander Editor
Sienna Reinders, a senior at Carlmont, is a staff writer for Scot Scoop and an editor for The Highlander. She is a passionate journalist who has also taken her skills to UC Berkeley's Daily Cal newspaper, with internships in the summers of 2022 and 2023. When she is not writing, you can find her running with friends to train for her next cross country or track race. To view her portfolio, click here.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Belmont citizens run to save Crystal Springs Cross Country Course