Manchester aldermen voted last week to turn the old Harriman Park basketball court (at the corner of Lake Avenue and Hall Street) into a parking lot. Though the hoops came down years ago, there was some hope that they, and the game of basketball, would be returned to this part of the center city. With that hope dashed, aldermen need to provide another court nearby.
Manchester has only two full-court public basketball courts on the populous East Side (at Bridge and Pine, and at Sheridan-Emmett Park across from Beech Street School). Alderman Ed Osborne wants to remove the goals at Sheridan-Emmett Park because young people sometimes play games there late into the evening.
That has been the customary reason for closing city courts. As reporter Mark Hayward pointed out in a column in July, the city has taken down the hoops at Livingston Park, Harriman Park, Enright Park and Howe Park. “The ones I closed were basically at the will of the aldermen of whatever ward I was in,” Alderman Ron Ludwig, the former city parks director, told Hayward.
Aldermen last week approved spending $60,000 to upgrade Harriman Park, minus the court. That is a shame. Osborne wants a new court at Gill Stadium, but that is a long trek for kids who live near Harriman Park.
It is not uncommon to hear officials complain about childhood obesity and idle, loitering youths. One would think that these same officials would see the benefit of providing basketball courts in parts of the city where hundreds of kids live in apartment buildings or in small homes with small yards and no room for private courts. But at last week’s meeting only Mayor Ted Gatsas and Alderman Joyce Craig opposed paving over the Harriman Park court.
Manchester needs at least one more basketball court in the center city. Aldermen need to find a good location for one.