Half-court issue trapped for time being

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  The Oak Lawn Park Board Monday called another time out in the extended basketball hoops saga at Little Wolfe Park.

  Park commissioners were expected to vote on a proposal to remove on of the hoops from the court, thereby eliminating full-court games. But the issue was not on the agenda, nor was it addressed during the meeting.
  Doing away with full-court games wouldthwart the competitiveness that brought on inappropriate conduct, including foul language, which raised the ire of neighbors of the park, 107th Street and Laramie Avenue.
  The proposal was not included on the board’s April agenda because one of the five park commissioners was unable to make the meeting, said Park Director Maddie Kelly.
  The decision to again put off the vote angered Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan, who has lobbied since last summer for a solution to the problems she believes are a result of full-court games.
  “They couldn’t even bother calling me,” said Quinlan, who attended Monday’s meeting expecting a vote on what she described as “the perfect compromise.”
  Commissioner Sue Murphy said the decision was delayed so the district could conduct “more research.”
  “The weather was not good and we need more information,” said Murphy, who completed her term as park board president following Monday’s meeting. Commissioner Donna McCauley is the new board president.
  The park district has not received any complaints about conduct at the basketball court since the weather broke, said Murphy, who added that removing the hoop remains an option.
  But, according to Quinlan, Murphy expressed reservations about removing a hoop so soon after Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, made racist remarks that got him banned from the league.
  Murphy could not be reached Tuesday for further comment.
  Residents have called for the removal of the hoops following an Aug. 14 fight involving two groups of teens, which led to two arrests.
  Quinlan has maintained that the fight was not an isolated incident. Instead, she said, troublemakers from outside the village used the court throughout the summer. Their poor conduct led other patrons, such as parents with young children, to avoid the park, she said.
  Comments from Quinlan and others that many of the basketball players were from outside the community led some to brand her a racist, an accusation she vehemently denies.
  “This isn’t about race. “It never has been,” said Quinlan, who added that many of the players at the court are not black.
  Quinlan said, however, that residents who live near Little Wolfe, will be upset to learn that the park district has delayed action on the matter.
  But Commissioner Gary Callahan said park board must be careful not make a major decision to appease one neighborhood.
  “Recreation is not about residents, it about recreation,” said Callahan, who opposes removing one of the hoops. “This is about politics, raw politics. Politics of the neighborhood. Where does it stop?”
  Callahan, however, expressed confidence that McCauley will bring commissioners together to forge a solution to the problem. McCauley and Commissioner Mary Margaret Wallace have expressed support for removing one of the hoops.
  Quinlan, who addressed the issue at Tuesday’s village board meeting, expressed reservations about the park board ever taking action.
  “I don’t know what to do,” she said.