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Residents Call Foul on Basketball in Lakewood

Neighbors of Kauffman Park tell Lakewood City Council of four-letter troubles at the city's only basketball court.

A few residents of Lakeland Avenue put a full-court press on on Monday night about the city’s only public basketball court.

— the pilot site for the sport’s return to the city following a four-year hiatus — has been a popular destination for youth looking to play ball.

Neighbors of the park say it has also been a destination for trouble.

Kim Schelgunov, a resident on Lakeland Avenue, told council that foul language is his primary concern. His frustration came to a head on Memorial Day when he says basketball players began dropping the “f-bomb” around his four children.

He walked across the street toward the court with a baseball bat in hand. A police officer at the basketball court diffused the situation, but it did little to end Schelgunov’s frustration.

“We are told to compromise,” he said. “But at what point do our concerns get addressed?”

Schelgunov was one of three residents who attended Monday’s council meeting.

Mayor Michael Summers told them that the city is already working to address the issues. Among the plans, the city is “reviewing the effectiveness” of a $4,500 sound screen that could minimize the noise from the park.

He also said the city is considering a review of the park’s hours of operation, as well as adding security cameras — like the ones used at .

Councilwoman Monique Smith responded to Schelgunov's complaint, noting that perhaps the park should close until the issue is resolved. She later clarified, noting that the park should only remain open only when there is supervision.

“To me, these people need a remedy and they need it soon,” she said. “I personally checked in on this court. I confronted teenagers about foul language. Having to deal with this at all, tells me that this pilot might be failing.”

But Summers said that basketball is here to stay.

“There is a huge demand for kids who want to play the game,” he said. “With our population density in Lakewood, our shared space is coveted by all. Our success depends on how well we share this public space.

"We can't give up on this."

Last fall, city council OK’d a pilot program sponsored by the Lakewood Outdoor Basketball Committee. Basketball advocates say the program has been a success.

Stephanie Toole, the co-founder of LOBC, said there haven’t been any serious issues at the park — and she’s not even sure the swearing is from the basketball court.

With a supervisor on the premises, she said, that behavior isn’t tolerated.

“I find this unbelievable,” said Toole, a mother of seven and assistant girls’ cross country coach at . “This is a basketball. We constantly demonize basketball. It’s unbelievable. We’re trying to promote exercise.

“These are good kids. Are they perfect? No, but which group of kids is perfect?” 

Schools talk basketball

At Monday’s Lakewood Board of Education meeting, school officials echoed some of the same concerns discussed at . 

As the schools have undergone major during the past few years, the basketball courts on schools grounds disappeared. School board is eyeing a measure to allow indoor basketball at three of the schools during evening hours.

Superintendent Joe Madak — along with board members Linda Beebe and Ed Favre — said that security issues, injury liability and operating costs should be considered as the plan moves forward. 

Once the right safeguards and regulations are developed to protect the players and the , Madak and the board members said they would then entertain the idea further.  

Patch reporter John Deike contributed to this report

Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:06 PM
After months of behavior we find intorable, we finally hear of a meeting at the courts. We attend with some of our neighbors, mind you this was a meeting no member of our neighborhood was notified of. That is ok. It was a meeting for the kids on the courts. I believe that I myself was very emotional, as was my neighbor who knows the mayor personally. I would what what person said "was abrasive". I was. I will not deny it, nor apologize. My family was physically threaten, and we had been dealing with the ongoing behavior for more than a month.
Melanie Shearer June 08, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Kim, You forgot to add that you are the responsible home owner, present land lord, respectful neighbor, and someone my family trusts. While carrying a bat into the park probably wasn't an example of you on your best day, we enjoy having you as a neighbor. Don't apologize for this issue being perceived as a race issue. You didn't start that. Mel
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Memorial Day weekend comes. We are continued to be exposed to behavior, but I can honestly say at times it was better. Better when an LOBC member or adult was there. I thank them for that. Yet, they are not always there, we are. The week leading into Memorial Day, the courts were starting to be open well into the night (meaning past 8pm). In fact it was habit that basketball was being played until 9 pm or so. We made our calls and the courts were closed. This may not seem like a big deal, and truly it is not, but if we are told that the courts will close at 8, then they should. After listening to basketball all day, I don't think that is really a unreasonable request.
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:14 PM
On Memorial Day. We do what most of everyone does, we had a cookout and ate dinner in our backyard. Basketball was still going on as it had all day, but there were not many kids playing, infact a few were riding their bikes in the courts and just hanging out. I get that, more than anyone will ever give me credit for. As we continued our dinner. A discussion was held about how my Hoes were "c-suckers", I wouldn't say it was screamed but spoken loud enough for my 4 yr old daughter to ask me what is a "c-sucker". Had I been in a public place I would be upset, but I was in my own backyard...again my backyard and was exposed to this. Do any of you truly realize how close the courts are to our homes.
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:18 PM
My family packed our dinner up and went into the house. Our day was ruined. Sorry, perhaps I should be more understanding, but it was ruined. My wife took the 2 little ones down to the school yard to play. I walked over to the courts. 2 LOBC members were there. I introduced myself, and told them what was said, and thanked them for helping to ruin our day. That was probably wrong in everyone here's opinion, and you all are all probably right, but again I am the "abrasive Jerk"
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:23 PM
A few weeks later, Friday night, same as it has been, we are forced to deal with the behavior. FYI...You should all know that unless there is a baseball game going on, the bathrooms are locked. I will leave it up to all of you to guess where the kids go when they have to go to the bathroom. Back to my issue... Friday night, 10:30 pm, I come home and basketball is still going on. I have had enough. I then sprial down a path, that I should not have taken. I yell across and say, "Go Home...The courts are closed" I was greeted with..."no they are not, so shut the "f" up." I then made even a worse decision. I grabbed a bat and walked to the courts. My wife in the meantime called the cops and sent our oldest son after them. When I had arrived a gentleman was there trying to lock the gates, the individuals were getting in their car and leaving.
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:28 PM
The 1st officer who arrived asked me "what was I doing" "what was I plan of doing with the bat" I answered honestly I did not know, I was angry and used extreme poor judgement. 2 more officers came up. The question was asked to me. "what would I have done if the individuals had a gun" Did I think a bat would really matter in that situation?" I apologized and even asked them that I know I was way out of line, and if I needed to be arrested, or cited I would fully accept it for my actions. The 2nd officer had a good point, what would have happened if there was a gun. Would we all be arguing about this, had something tragic happened. Why were the courts not closed. But most importantly why did I do what I did. I guess I am an idiot to most of you, and you would be correct. I do feel though, that a person, any person has a breaking point. I had reached mine.
Melanie Shearer June 08, 2011 at 06:29 PM
When I spoke with Stephanie this morning, she said that the lock on the courts was broken. I am not sure if the city fixed this or not. I also wanted to add that the behavior in the park that I witnessed yesterday was exceptional. The kids were playing, having a good time, and wathching their language. The courts were closed at 8pm on the nose and all was good. This is how this program was intended.
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:33 PM
I have apologized for that incident to the our ward police department. I have apologized to council, and the chief of police. I am truly embarrassed, and regretful for yes, my actions. What I am not sorry for is my right to stand up for my right to enjoy my home, my yard. There are better ways, yes, but how much must we sacrifice to have those rights answered. I was not afraid, I was angry. I was not angry at race or basketball itself, I was angry at the situation that has been forced down my throat. When will the basketball courts respect those rights.
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:42 PM
And Finally... I am not opposed to basketball being played, I am not opposed to the LOBC. What I am opposed to are promises, guarantees given to me and not followed out. I am oppossed to rules being overlooked like a punchline to a bad joke. If the writer of this letter can confirm. I never once said I want the basketball courts totally shut down. I only asked that If I am to compromise, than so should the basketball courts. Stronger enforcement of the rules, If the courts are to close at 8, then they should close at 8. If these are truly basketball courts, basketball should be played, not just a place to hang out. And lastly which is not in favor of most. I deserve a day off from the noise of the courts. 1 day out of 7. A weekend day would be nice. I like, I would imagine most of all of you work and look forward to a weekend. So to make this into anything but behavior and enforcement of rules, is a shame. It is a shame that those of you who think that this is what it is all about, are truly not hearing what we are saying, therefore how are we ever going to move forward. I can only hope that the members of LOBC, City Council, and Police Department understand what the neighbors of the basketball courts are asking. Anything else is a waste of energy. Thanks Mr. Kim Schelgunov
Kim Schelgunov June 08, 2011 at 06:47 PM
I meant my wife sent our oldest son after me. The idiot. Sorry for my Grammer. In fact I know there are teachers here, so Please excuse my spelling and grammer.
Peter Grossetti June 08, 2011 at 07:00 PM
I was fortunate en0ugh to be at the City Council meeting where Mr. Schelgunov apologized for his actions. I do not know Mr. Schelgunov and had not been aware of this situation previous to that Council meeting. I was truly impressed by 1.) his very sincere apology; and 2.) the fact that he chose to express his concerns about the growing frustrations regarding this matter in an appropriate forum. We all have done foolish things. Mr. Schelgunov has admitted that his actions that day were wrong. Few of us would have had the courage to so. Congratulations, sir, I am truly impressed. ("Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” - Mark Twain) I, too, probably would have done the exact same thing if one of my family members were physically threatened. It is so sad that any Lakewood citizen would face such a dilemma!
Peter Grossetti June 08, 2011 at 07:32 PM
I also appreciate that, per Claire (above): "LOBC is working hard to volunteer our time and resources to monitor the courts, but clearly it is not sufficient to meet the needs ... are looking for more volunteers to help staff the courts" I will be contacting LOBC personally to see what kind of volunteer commitment is needed. I am still confused about a few things: 1.) Is LOBC the only activity allowed when the courts are open (unlocked)? 2.) When sanctioned LOBC activity is taking place, is there LOBC monitors/representatives present? 3.) Are LOBC activity hours posted at the courts. (again, I could not find this on the website) 4.) Do LOBC monitors/reps have authority to dismiss a ball player from the courts? 5.) When there is no LOBC activity, are the courts locked? By whom?
meg June 08, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Mr. Greossetti, I am not sure about when the courts are locked or unlocked. You are right, it is alot of work for LOBC to do all of this. I think recognizing that is important. I know it is not all of Lakeland neighbors that are opposed to this orgainzation. I did not mean to come across that way. However, there have been some that have been more vocal than others, and not vocal in productive way. Thank you for your comments.
meg June 08, 2011 at 07:57 PM
YOu are right that issues need to be addressed, but I do not feel that only LOBC should fix the problems. The entire community should be figuring out how to create positive outlets for youth. Numerous communities have basketball courts outdoors. I'm sure Lakewood could figure it out too. Taking away hoops does not make kids start behaving and causing less trouble. What else can they do to address the concerns. They are having fundraisers to earn more money to open up courts in places away from residentials and they are meeting with many officials to open schools up for open gyms all summer. They are trying to fix the problem. Unfortunately, I do not see anyone else doing the same.
meg June 08, 2011 at 07:59 PM
YOu said on the above post and that is why your husband took a bat to the courts
meg June 08, 2011 at 08:03 PM
The kids know who all of the monitors are. I don't think there is anything wrong with playing with them and developing a positive relationship. They need that . It will build dialogue and trust. Many of the young men need male role models. Many of my students state at school that, "If you swear at the courts the chaperones make you leave." They are acting like adult role models up there.
meg June 08, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Mrs. Schelgunov, LOBC has met with you at the "Courtside Meeting, " but it did not go well. One reason is because some residents did not take time to listen to what Nadhal or the Mayor had to say to the kids. I heard one lady say, "Oh this is ridiculous, it will never work." THere was shouting and yelling from residents toward the Mayor and City Council. I am learning that this has been an ongoing problem at Kaufman, but LOBC did not know that. This form of communication turns people away from each other. From what I know you have continued to write letters that have been negative. Your tone and comments probably make LOBC feel it would be better to meet with city officials (although I cannot speak for them. I also never called anyone a racist, but I did say stereotypes might exist. This is could be referenced toward teens or basketball. So do not put words in my mouthg. Also, please do not insult the fact that I am a teacher, as you did with the question mark above as if I cannot read? I work extremely hard with my students. I dedicate a large part of my life to educating my students. I care about them more than you could understand. The personal attack that you just gave me is exactly what you did in previous letters you wrote to others such as, "I am not trying to stop you and your little organization," or "LOBC supports kids that expose my family to lower class language." they do not support that at all! I have no desire to give you my email b/c...
meg June 08, 2011 at 08:29 PM
I do not feel there is anything positive coming out of communicating with you. YOu accuse LOBC of things that are not true, making them out to be some enemy. Since you have lied about that, I am not sure how truthful other statements are. I will contine to support LOBC through fundraisers and whatever else they need since this blogging seems to be turning into bantering. I suggest that if you would like to meet with them again, tey communicating in a friendly way. It seems that another neighbor has done that as she mentioned she talked to Mrs. O'Toole. When LOBC is falsely accused of accepting foul language, ignoring the problem, and not chaperoning, I don't think that would make them feel they will get far communicating with you. THey are doing the best they can. Do you realize how much of thier time they are taking for this cause? They too have family schedules, holidays, and weekends that are interupted because of chaperoning. However, they are not giving up because the long term goals are essential to Lakewood. I think they deserve some respect, just as you do. Overall, although there are issues of concern at the courts, there are great things as well. I have spoken to parents who are thrilled that there child has lost a considerable amount of weight from the bball courts. I have spoken to parents who are very grateful that thier child has somewhere to play outside. Many are grateful that outdoor recreation is available since...
meg June 08, 2011 at 08:33 PM
continued from above...since they are not as blessed to be able to afford a backyard basketball hoop or YMCA pass. I do not agree with rude behavior in any way at all! However, I do not think the solution is to take away basketball again. It should have never happened in the first place. We should be working together to figure this out, not against each other. Once again, LOBC has continued to work hard to gain more locations and indoor open gyms to alleviate Lakeland residents concerns. That needs to be noted. They do care how everyone is feeling. This will be my last post. I have shared my views as I have heard yours.
Missy Toms June 08, 2011 at 09:30 PM
The difference is that the softball field isn't up against houses. The basketball courts are in our backyards, and we have only a wire fence barrier.
Greg June 08, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Lakeland residents are soft, nut up and let the kids play ball. They are going to swear, it's part of sports. As for littering, maybe more trash cans should be available. Ass for urinating, im sure every male has urinated outside at least one in their life, yes you too Kim.
Alan R. June 09, 2011 at 11:46 AM
I think if the police made a few arrests and showed the troublemakers that the city is serious about maintaining civility in the neighborhood, the problems would eventually become less frequent.
Peter Grossetti June 09, 2011 at 02:29 PM
@Alan - Police make arrests for murder, rape, drug trafficking, public intoxication, etc. ... but people continue to kill, rape, deal drugs, get obnoxiously drunk!! I contend that "a few arrests" will hardly be a deterrent, and will do nothing to addresses the root problem: our failure as a community to teach our young people to be respectful, productive members of society. This whole issue goes SO BEYOND basketball and frustrated neighbors.
Alan R. June 09, 2011 at 04:44 PM
You're right Greg about the swearing and the urinating. It's part of Lakewood's charm. I see old dudes urinating on Madison Avenue frequently and for swearing, just visit the Madison Park playground, you may learn some new words! Hopefully, the hoops will be back there soon. Litter is still a problem there however.
Jordan Tadic June 09, 2011 at 05:48 PM
All, I'd like to speak on behalf of the LOBC. We greatly appreciate everyone's constructive criticism and your willingness to participate in future discussions. Unfortunately, we do not have time to monitor the large number of online forums out there on a daily basis, so we prefer to speak to the residents directly. Please feel free to email the LOBC @ committee@lobc.org (or call 216-245-5598), and we will address all of your concerns as soon as we possibly can. We are always open to criticism and recommendations to help improve our services to Lakewood. If you contact us, we will respond! Also, anyone is welcome to join our meetings - just ask. In the couple of days that have passed since this article has been posted, we have promptly responded to many emails/phone calls. Though we don't drop literature in everyone's front door handle every time we have a meeting, we do make ourselves very accessible and leave our meetings open to anyone that wants to get involved. Never hesitate to contact us with your concerns. Thanks!
Jordan Tadic June 09, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Not sure if I'll have time to read all of these comments during my short work break, but I wholeheartedly agree with Peter G.'s last response. Additionally, there has been no reason to arrest anyone at the courts. No laws are being broken by occasional swearing. Also, we have had no reports of urination.
Jordan Tadic June 09, 2011 at 05:56 PM
@Peter G., your 5 questions can are answered on the sign posted at the courts. 1. Yes. Basketball without breaking our rules of conduct. Tennis on the remaining tennis court is permitted as well. 2. Yes. We are present for a majority of the time the gates are unlocked. 3. Yes. 4. Yes. 5. Yes, by LOBC volunteers.
Peter Grossetti June 09, 2011 at 06:12 PM
@ Jordan - thanks! One thing still confuses me bit. The courts are open 10am to 8pm, but LOBC only - and I do not use "only" in a negative way - provides supervision between 4pm and 8pm. Who supervise between 10am and 4pm?
Mike October 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Really a baseball bat over cussing? What a psycho. Calm down its sports, it happens. It lakewood not the east side no ones getting shot. Calm yourself.

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