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Councilwoman Questions Plan for Basketball Courts at Lakewood Park

Plans call for two middle-school sized, half courts in the grassy area just west of the Lakewood Skatepark. Not so fast, says Lakewood councilwoman.

It looks as if has called for a timeout in the game plan to open basketball courts at this year.

Council agreed Monday to discuss concerns brought up by at-large councilwoman Monique Smith.

She urged the administration to answer a few questions before moving forward on a proposal to support the Lakewood Outdoor Basketball Committee in its effort to install two middle-school sized, half courts in the grassy area just west of the Lakewood Skatepark.

Smith, the only member of council who didn’t sign a letter of support for the project earlier this year, said she like to discuss the issue further.

In a prepared statement, she outlined more than a dozen questions and concerns she has about the proposal.

Some of them included how the plan has evolved; the projected timeframe, including start date and completion date; and a “definition of goals and target population that we are attempting to serve.”

Aside from — where there’s been a — there are no public outdoor basketball courts in Lakewood.

The last public court was removed in 2007.

“I don’t necessarily want to see basketball shut down for all time, but I do want to see it managed successfully,” she said, adding that she’d like to see a plan for supervision built into the proposal. “I am concerned about some of the reports that we’ve gotten from the Kauffman courts.”

A couple of residents who live near the Kauffman Park court took the opportunity at Monday’s council meeting to speak out against proposal.

“I feel I have been ignored,” said one resident at Monday’s council meeting. “Please consider the location of where you are putting these courts.”

Mayor Michael Summers said he’s willing to discuss the issue further with council.

“They’re reasonable questions,” he said. “A lot of them I thought we’ve answered through the process, but if not, we will re-answer them.”

“I’ve been an advocate of building this court since the beginning.”

that the city will likely help out with the work, but the effort is being coordinated by the LOBC.

The citizen-led volunteer group has worked for months to get the courts built, and has already raised a majority of the $30,000 needed to build the hoops.

The organization is still seeking donations to get the project off the ground.

Ward 2 councilman Tom Bullock said he would “certainly welcome a conversation” about Smith’s concerns, but said he supports the project moving forward, and would like to see the project under way “before the snow starts falling.”

Bullock referred to a 2001 Lakewood Park master plan that calls for basketball hoops at the park.

“This is a perfectly legitimate request to discuss this in committee of the whole,” said council vice president Mary Louise Madigan. “It’s just public discourse.”

More information — including many of the answers to Smith’s questions — is available on the LOBC website. Click here to buy a brick that will support the construction of the Mark Dickens Memorial Court.

Peter Grossetti September 05, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Councilwoman Smith's letter, in full, (source: onelakewood.com) (PART 1) We have received communications from the mayor informing us that his office has agreed to allow a private local advocacy group, The Lakewood Outdoor Basketball Committee (LOBC), to build a basketball court at Lakewood Park. We have not seen a written, formal plan for what has been proposed but some information has been shared over the course of the year including the recent communication that city funds may be used to complete the project that was originally proposed to be fully funded by LOBC. By way of this letter, I would like to request that the details of this private public partnership be documented in writing and shared with council and the public more formally so that we can all fully understand the plan and have the opportunity to share feedback on this unique partnership and parks initiative. I am interested in understanding details such as: - how the plan evolved? - the projected timeframe for the project, including start date and be completion date - a definition of goals and target population that we are attempting to serve (e.g. young children, teens, adults, boys, girls, Lakewood children, all of the above?) - where the court (presumably a converted tennis court) will be located - how and why a particular park was chosen as the location for this new program - how and why the specific location of the court within the park was chosen over other locations
Peter Grossetti September 05, 2012 at 12:15 PM
- how and why the specific location of the court within the park was chosen over other locations - how much community input was gathered on the choice of court location from those who live near the park and who regularly use nearby facilities such as Foster Pool, The Lakewood Catholic Academy pre-school playground, other tennis courts and the Kids Cove playground area - what the hours of operation for the new court will be - how and when the court will be supervised - who will supervise, and how will they be trained or screened appropriately - what the original financial commitment from LOBC was - what the original financial commitment from the administration was - a current projection of total costs to the city including labor, materials and funds - whether other private groups may begin to submit proposals to build activity-specific facilities on public parkland - Why this initiative has been chosen as a higher priority than other improvements that have been needed or requested by the public and council or outlined in the parks Master Plan
Peter Grossetti September 05, 2012 at 12:16 PM
(PART 3) Because this information was not documented or measured in the pilot stage of the outdoor basketball court program at Kauffman Park, questions still remain for some members of the community about how to best manage an activity like this I believe that documentation of all expectations and commitments associated with this partnership will benefit everyone involved. More broadly, I think this initiative presents an opportunity to think about the overall alignment of the city recreational programming efforts, currently managed by Lakewood Public Schools, and the Public Works/Parks planning efforts, currently managed by the city. I would like to take this opportunity to invite the Mayor Council and the Lakewood School Board to discuss the larger issue of how recreational programming can best be executed to meet our community current and future needs a subject that is so critical to families who are deciding which community to choose as their permanent home. For example, how can we work together to develop and supervise drop-in recreational activities such as outdoor basketball, in a way that maintains safe and successful programming for everyone, and what criteria should we use to prioritize initiatives such as new basketball courts when other improvements and investments may be wanted and needed by the community?
Peter Grossetti September 05, 2012 at 12:17 PM
(PART 4) As our city continues to make itself more marketable and desirable by focusing on economic development and housing improvements, we should also take time to understand the recreational priorities and expectations that today’s residents and potential residents may have when choosing a community in which to live. Please refer this communication to an appropriate council committee to discuss the above questions about the city outdoor basketball plans with the Administration. I look forward to this discussion and to future conversations about parks and recreational program planning. Sincerely Monique Smith Councilmember-at-Large
Peter Grossetti September 05, 2012 at 12:18 PM
For the record: I am merely an LOBC volunteer. I hold no LOBC office that would make me an official spokesperson for the organization. I am not opposed to questions being asked, but ONLY if each and every private organization who uses City facilities (parks, buildings, etc.) are required to answer the same questions. How about this: perhaps ALL such usage/activity should cease immediately until each and every private organization who uses City facilities answers the same questions.
The original Bill September 05, 2012 at 12:59 PM
She has some very valid questions. Why was this project given priority over others that were in the 2001 master plan? What about other private organizations that want to take over public land? What if the dog park wants to relocate to Lakewood Park? What will the costs to the city be? (both construction and maintenance) Who will supervise the courts?
MZ September 05, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Perhaps LOBC could consider raising enough funds to build the courts on private property and maintain them through private funding. This would avoid having to answer the Coucilmembers questions.
Amanda September 05, 2012 at 01:18 PM
I love the idea of Basketball at Lakewood Park...but I also hope that there are plans and funds to repair the courts at Kauffman Park and maintain the facilities already in place at Lakewood and Madison Park...
Amanda September 05, 2012 at 01:27 PM
http://www.onelakewood.com/pdf/2006_Planning_LakewoodPark_MasterPlan.pdf The link above takes you to the City plan where the Basketball court idea originated, glad to see there is an active group supporting the vision!
Ken September 05, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I think the majority of her questions are superficial, but asking "who will use the courts and Who will supervise the courts" are veiled questions about security issues, gang issues, drug issues. Many of the same issues that led to the removal of basketball courts in the past.
Steve September 05, 2012 at 02:20 PM
@Ken-You hit the nail on the head. It is the same song and dance they gave to have the bullie breeds BANNED from Lakewood. They were more concerned about the questionable people that owned these fine dogs, than the dogs themselves. But they wont come right out and say that, just rephrase it to suit their judgements.
Allison Smalley September 05, 2012 at 03:09 PM
You hit the nail on the head as usual Steve.
Alex Vandehoff September 05, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Monique has a lot of time on her hands to write that letter since she's incapable of providing her income disclosure statements on time.
Steve September 05, 2012 at 06:33 PM
@ Peter, how many of these questions were already answered, but NOT heard???
ian king September 05, 2012 at 08:48 PM
HI Ken - lets call it like it is. Lakewood has changed since the 2001 master plan. There are clearly a lot more folks hanging around town that, well, are questionable in terms of what they are just doing hanging around town! Also, supervision is a key important consideration here. Gangs are here in Lakewood and a fact of life. Take a walk down Detroit anytime and you can see folks who are certainly somewhat questionable in just what are they doing and hanging out for. I have seen more than one drug deal go down in the Walgreens parking lot at 117th and Detroit in broad daylight. So lets not get into the politically correct game calling. It is a well know fact that in most urban cities unsupervised basketball courts have attracted gangs, drug deals, underage drinking, and other security/noise/safety concerns for neighbors. I am not a racist, bigot or whatever you want to call someone who speaks the realities of life in Lakewood today, not 2001. These concerns need to be addressed and talked about before building these basketball courts.

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