GREEN BAY – Despite having courts, basketball hasn’t been played at a Green Bay park in a year, but that’s likely about to change.
Green Bay’s Parks Committee voted Wednesday to recommend restoring the basketball rims at Fisk Park, which is near West High School.
Green Bay police say crimes like disorderly conduct, theft, and vandalism were common at Fisk Park until an officer decided to remove the park’s basketball rims last summer.
“Frankly, we were afraid someone was going to get killed in this park,” said Capt. Bill Bongle with the Green Bay Police Department. “This was an emergency decision that was made at a time when things were pretty hot over there.”
The department tried extra enforcement, issuing citations, and meeting with troubled teen’s parents. Neighbors say taking away the hoops made the issues disappear.
“Overnight, it was a difference,” said Ruth Meyers, who lives near the park.
Alderman Mark Steuer says police should have consulted with city officials before the rims were taken down. That’s partly why he had the parks committee take up the issue on Wednesday.
“Sadly, I feel there is a number of folks that use these hoops that are being penalized for what other folks do,” said Steuer.
Terry Cook and Divine Temple Church hope to help.
“We’re not going to kid ourselves here, those police calls, the majority were from African-American people,” said Cook. “So we as the church over there, be it predominantly African-American, we are speaking to those people and their parents.”
After a year with no basketball, the parks committee voted to recommend returning the rims to the park on Aug. 1. It’s a decision that didn’t sit well with everyone.
“I think reinstating them this soon is going to send the wrong message,” said Jim Sanderson of Green Bay. “I don’t think it’s a long enough period.”
If crime returns with the rims, police have the authority to remove them again.
“I have faith in some of our community partners that we’re going to be able to connect with people in the community and hopefully resolve it and defuse anything so something like this doesn’t happen again,” said Bongle.
The parks committee plans to revisit the issue in November.