Acting ‘as a father,’ mayor takes away basketball hoops

Users of Memorial Park have lost their pool and now they are temporarily unable to play hoops at the basketball court.

By order of Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, the basketball rims at the park on West Fourth Street near Bowman Field will be removed for two weeks and not replaced until July 1.

Such punishment – for all who enjoy shooting hoops – is because of a few bad apples.

“Citizens must be responsible for their behavior,” he said. “As a city, we cannot reward bad behavior.”

For weeks, Campana claims the city has endured a chronic problem. The Streets and Parks Department has found drug paraphernalia, broken glass, cigarette butts and garbage in the areas surrounding the courts.

Staff has to clean up the mess, he said, and Campana also said he’s received complaints about “unruly behavior” by those using the courts.

An inspection Saturday revealed the worst. “I was appalled by the condition of the site,” Campana said. “Children using the playground equipment nearby should not be exposed to disrespectful behavior toward city property nor small children.

“A lesson will be taught as a father and mother teaches their children,” Campana said of the temporary removal of the rims. “If the behavior improves, the courts will remain,” he said, promising further action if conditions don’t improve. “If not, I will consider removing the basketball rims permanently. We cannot enable bad behavior.”

Meanwhile, those who seek a swim in a community pool will have to travel to Shaw Place Park’s East End Pool, the only pool to remain open in the city because of budget issues.

Memorial Park is one of the three city parks under surveillance by cameras that were recently installed.

The cameras, four at the park, three at Roy A. Flanigan Park on Little League Boulevard and three at Newberry Park are designed as tools for law enforcement use, according to city Police Chief Gregory Foresman.

The video is kept at the police station for seven days, unless determined to be part of an investigation, he said.

“We hope this makes a big difference in the parks, and hopefully throughout the city down the road,” Foresman said.