I totally forgot that I didn’t write about this one particular issue until I went back to rewatch the Planning Board agenda item about the St Charles Street addition. It got lost after the post about James Edison and everything else that happened.
Anyway, in a discussion about the neighborhood parks at Site A, this was one of the things that came up:
The further explanation involved mentioning loud adults, but that reasoning felt a little, well, weak when the subtext felt a lot ickier.
So, I asked the City about whether there was a formal policy for not putting in full basketball court and this was the response from the ADRP Director Amy Wooldridge:
There is not a written city policy governing park design, such as the basketball courts. The design is determined through staff experience and public input. Other than that, we do have park standards for specific components such as benches, tree species, drinking fountains, irrigation, etc
We have two parks with full court basketball in Alameda – at Washington and Leydecker Parks. We used to have a full court at Little John Park, a number of years ago. There was often poor behavior from adults playing on those courts and complaints from neighbors. The department chose to split the court into two half courts. The bad behaviors haven’t been seen at that basketball court since then. We have also found that younger kids have more opportunity to play when it is a half court.
This experience, plus the limited space available in the Alameda Point Neighborhood Park and the need for other amenities like playgrounds and picnic areas, both played a role in the staff recommendation for a half basketball court. The Recreation and Parks Commission also reviewed and recommended the park design that went before the Planning Board.
Personally I’m not in love with the rationale. Nearly all of the schools in Alameda have full basketball courts that are in neighborhoods and don’t have the same issues that were cited above as to why ARPD has recommended only half basketball courts. I should probably ask for the complaints that were lodged but am being lazy and I’m not thrilled with seeing what type of complaints were actually filed that lead to ARPD splitting the existing full courts and then having this very informal not-policy, policy.
To be honest if this is going to be a recommendation moving forward from the City for all neighborhood parks, I think it deserves a public airing as to what data and factors inform this decision and makes it more than a decision predicated on anecdotal stories and neighbor complaints colored with human perceptions.