Air ball
Publication Date: Wednesday May 31, 1995

DOWNTOWN NORTH: Air ball

Basketball hoop taken down for six months due to noise, behavior problems

There will be no basketball at Johnson Park this summer--unless you bring your own hoop.

City park officials on May 12 removed the lone hoop from the park in the Downtown North neighborhood for a six-month trial period.

The city wants to see whether removing the basket will help ameliorate problems that neighbors have long complained about: public urination, loud and abusive language and use beyond park hours.

The introduction of ranger patrols at the park last year has helped control some problems, but neighbors have continued to voice complaints about use of the basketball half-court, said John Walton, superintendent of open space and sciences for the city.

"It's not just one neighbor," he said, but a group of about eight to 10 individuals who have complained.

Particularly during summer months, basketball play often extends late into the evening and occasionally beyond park hours, he said. And there are several neighbors who live close to the court who can hear the ball bouncing in their living rooms.

But more disquieting is the foul language.

"The young adults using the court consistently used loud and abusive language," Walton said.

The city held a neighborhood meeting May 3 to discuss removing the hoop for a six-month trial period and there was unanimous support, he said.

At the end of six months, the city will hold another series of meetings with neighbors and basketball players to discuss the impact of the loss of basketball play.

"The question will be, 'Do the benefits outweigh the inconvenience of not having a basketball court in the neighborhood?'" Walton said. "Clearly there are people in the neighborhood who like to play basketball."

The periodic ranger patrols, primarily on weekends and weekday evenings, will continue at the park, which is located between Everett and Hawthorne avenues and Kipling and Cowper streets.

In the past, the city has discussed removing the court and building a full-size court at El Camino Park, which is not surrounded by residences.

--Peter Gauvin
"The question will be, 'Do the benefits outweigh the inconvenience of not having a basketball court in the neighborhood?' Clearly there are people in the neighborhood who like to play basketball." @id:--John Walton 

Back up to the Table of Contents Page