During the public comments section of last night’s Common Council meeting, Fabrizia Rodriguez, a director at Centro Civico as well as a coach for the Wishful Thinking recreation basketball league, spoke out against the ban on basketball hoops on city streets which was approved 4-1 by the council on July 1st. Fabrizia said that the ban disproportionately affected low-income children who did not have access to a driveway and could potentially put kids in greater danger as they sought out abandoned buildings or other places to play. She also said that the condition of the basketball courts in the city parks were poor. Accompanying her were several girls in basketball uniforms who Rodriguez said were members of her basketball team and representative of children of low-income families would be most affected by the ban.
Later in the meeting, the three council members present who voted for the ban, Ron Barone, Diane Hatzenbuhler, and Richard Leggerio, all defended their positions and reiterated that the children’s safety was their top concern when voting for the measure. Alderman Ed Russo, who also voted for the resolution, was not present.
Barone said that in Ward 3, he was aware of the poor condition of Sirchia Park and was hoping to work with the Recreation Department to get basketball hoops installed there within about three weeks.
Mayor Ann Thane spoke out against the ban, arguing that there were already laws on the books against anyone blocking traffic on city streets. She said that the ban would not inspire people to parent better and that at-risk and impoverished neighborhoods were being unfairly targeted.
Hatzenbuhler said that under current laws, police officers could only take action if they personally observed people blocking the streets. With the new resolution, police officers could remove the hoops before an incident happened. She also said that she believed Thane previously intended to sign the resolution. After the meeting, Thane confirmed that she would issue a veto on the resolution.
Valerie Beekman, who voted against the ban, said that taking away the hoops from the kids would not teach them anything.
Leggerio said that he might be open to allowing portable hoops on dead-end streets, but agreed with the other council members in supporting the ban. He said that increased attention should be paid to fixing up the basketball courts in the city parks.