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What you need to know for 07/20/2017

Amsterdam mayor, council clash over ban on street hoops

Amsterdam mayor, council clash over ban on street hoops

Two weeks ago, the Amsterdam Common Council passed an ordinance that would effectively ban the place
Amsterdam mayor, council clash over ban on street hoops
Jared Baldizon plays basketball in front of his home on Brown Street in Amsterdam on Tuesday afternoon. City officials want to make it illegal to set up a portable basketball hoop on city streets.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Two weeks ago, the Amsterdam Common Council passed an ordinance that would effectively ban the placement of basketball hoops on city sidewalks and streets.

Mayor Ann Thane said she has no intention of signing the ordinance into law, however, and plans to veto it in the next couple days.

“I think we have much more important issues to worry about than kids playing basketball in the streets,” Thane said.

If the council sticks to the 4-1 vote by which it approved the measure, however, it would be able to override her veto.

According to the ordinance, playing basketball on or near city streets “presents a traffic hazard,” and “any basketball equipment located on any city street or sidewalk may be removed immediately by city workers.” The fine for violating the ordinance could be up to $250.

Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler introduced the ordinance to prevent kids from being hit by cars while playing in the street.

“We don’t want them injured,” she said.

Alderman Richard Leggiero, who also voted in favor of the ordinance, also said it was a matter of protecting kids.

“I do believe by taking the basketball courts out of the sidewalk and streets it’s going to be safer for them and for people driving automobiles,” he explained.

Fabrizia Rodriguez, director of the community development initiative at Centro Civico Inc., a community service organization and a summer league basketball coach, said many of the kids she coaches live in rented apartments. For those kids and their families, moving the basketball hoop from the street and into a driveway wouldn’t be an option since the driveway is shared by other tenants.

Rodriguez expressed her dissatisfaction with the ordinance at Tuesday night’s council meeting, passing around pictures of parks in the city that are in disrepair and wouldn’t be a place for kids to play, either.

At the end of the meeting, the four council members who voted in favor of the ordinance continued to voice their support, although they did agree the parks should be improved.

Angel Windham, Rodriguez’s assistant summer league coach, lives on Lincoln Street, a busy street, and said at the meeting she can understand why the city wouldn’t want people to have their basketball hoops on the sidewalk or anywhere near the street. However, her 12-year-old son, Caydren Graveley, is an avid basketball player, she said, and a park within walking distance of their home doesn’t have basketball hoops. And they can’t put a hoop in their driveway because they live in a rented apartment in a two-family house and the other tenant parks in the driveway.

While she understands the point of view of council members who voted in favor of the ordinance, she said they should have spoken to families first and fixed the parks instead.

“I want them to give kids options before taking things away from them,” Rodriguez said after the meeting, adding that council members should table the ordinance until they can either fix the parks or find other ways to deal with the situation.

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