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Eliminate Basketball Hoops?

Oak Lawn Trustee Would Like To See Them Removed After Fight

Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) would like to see basketball hoops removed from Little Wolfe Playground, at least temporarily, citing problems with people who use them, but Park District officials say they are monitoring the location, but have received no complaints. {{more}}

Quinlan, who lives near the park at 107th and Laramie Avenue, said this week that constituents had been calling her complaining of problems with people using the basketball courts long before the Aug. 14 fight that occurred there between two groups of teens, one black and one white. Two people were arrested following the fight, and the issue gained more attention.

Quinlan said the issue is not racially motivated, but said the courts, especially during the summer, were mainly being used by people from outside Oak Lawn.

ÒAs of last winter, I’ve had a lot of residents complaining about the noise, bad language and litter (around the basketball courts),” she said. ÒA lot of residents say they don’t feel safe there,” when 10 or 15 people are gathered around. She said several people, including grandmothers, have complained of harassment from basketball players making vulgar comments or gestures as they pass.

ÒI need to address it when that many people are calling me,” she said, adding that the adults and older teens at the basketball court also hang on the children’s play equipment nearby, possibly damaging it.

ÒThat equipment is not made for people over 150 pounds,” she said. ÒI don’t have any kind of agenda here. I am just responding to the concerns of residents.”

She said she spoke to officials in Evergreen Park, where outdoor basketball nets were removed from parks, and that apparently solved similar problems there.

Quinlan suggested the possibility of taking the hoops down temporarily, to see if the problems are resolved.

ÒIt is sad because when my kids were young, they used to play basketball there, but it is not local kids playing there anymore. It can be accessed from a lot of areas,” she said, noting that the paths through the adjoining Wolfe Wildlife Refuge are used to get there.

ÒHopefully we can come up with something that makes everyone happy.”

ÒIf they are calling (Quinlan), they are calling the wrong place,” said Park District Board President Sue Murphy. ÒShe has nothing to do with the parks. She represents the village.”

Murphy said park district officials and police have not received any complaints about problems there, and have not seen any since the incident in August.

ÒWe are monitoring it, and the police are monitoring it. And there have been no problems,” Murphy said. In addition to basketball courts, the playground includes volleyball nets, a tot lot and walking paths.

ÒIt is a safe place to come and play,” she added.

The Park District meets monthly, and Murphy said Wednesday that the issue will not be discussed at the Oct. 21 meeting unless someone puts it on the agenda.

Anyone who has experienced problems there may call the park district at (708) 857-2222.

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