LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Concerned residents in Lakewood gathered at the city’s Madison Park Saturday for a meeting about the temporary closure of the park’s basketball court.
An 18-year-old man was shot in the park’s parking lot Tuesday, and according to Mayor Meghan F. George, city police recommended temporarily closing the court after discovering new evidence in the case.
City officials removed the hoops on the court Friday, much to the chagrin of residents.
“It's kind of crappy because I spend a lot of time over here,” said Dante Palmer, who plays basketball at the Madison Park court.
“It’s definitely had a negative effect on the community in general,” said Jack Pollock, who also plays basketball at the Madison Park court
The closure prompted the Lakewood Outdoor Basketball Committee to call the public meeting to brainstorm ways to bring the hoops back and dismantle the negative perception some have about the court and the people who play there.
“Building community safety and more community around these courts to make sure that families and everyone feels welcome and safe,” said Roger Sikes, a member of the Lakewood Outdoor Basketball Committee. “We just want to make sure that we come up with solutions that bring people together and don't demonize youth basketball players, and don't demonize particularly youth of color. We want to make sure that that youth can play sports and can get engaged and can have a great time on basketball courts.”
Members of the committee said one solution is getting more people out to the park, and more specifically to the court.
“Getting people out here to use, not just the court but to come and observe games. Outdoor basketball, pickup basketball is spontaneous, and it is exciting,” said Randy Brown, a Lakewood resident. “Even if you don't actually play, it's still worth it to come and watch and if more people do that, I think that the court will be safe because of the people that are observing and utilizing the grassy areas around the court too.”
The city of Lakewood is having a public safety meeting at 6 p.m. Monday where the mayor, police chief, and city council will be addressing residents’ questions and concerns.
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