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Summer has arrived.

Summer has arrived. School is out, Drive safely and watch out for the young ones.

I would have thought by now Mayor Gabriel Campana would have realized the importance of basketball to the community. My article last week, “So Long Sech”, was about how through Dave Sechler’s efforts so many folks from so many walks of life were brought together by basketball.

Basketball is played by the young, teens, twenties, thirty somethings. After that is overtime if you are so blessed. Basketball is played by people of every color, religion and whatever else you want to add to this. Yes, the law abiding play and yes some that get caught up in drugs and what goes along with it play. But on the court it’s just basketball. You see no color or social economic background. You see not what a man is or has done, but only not to let him beat you off the dribble for a hoop.
Mr. Campana and the Lycoming County Housing authority need to cut the locks, get the hoops back up and provide basketball. It sounds simple. But it isn’t. Politics and the snowball they have created has grown to the size of well, a moon size basketball, over inflated by the hot air from our Mayor and his opposition, Mr. Hall and City Council. There are also others using this as a political football. This issue is for a future story. Let’s just say it is those who want the rental codes ordinance lifted, certain rental property owners.

I don’t care about all that right now. What I do care about is that 11-year-old with the Nikes and ball under his arm and no place to play. That teenager trying to avoid going down the wrong path of life and nowhere to put his energy into hoops and not into gang activity. To that person who is dealing or using drugs and the only thing that might save them is being around someone who can provide the thought of change. This can happen at a basketball court. Before you go negative, I have seen it happen.

Yes there is the Dad and Son or Daughter that want to hoop it up. But they usually do that at a different time of day or at different courts than we are talking about. By not having these hoops in the city the family basketball games at surrounding parks will be forced out. I use to ride my bike across the Market Street Bridge to the BD Center to play. You don’t think the players who lost their courts are not going to move and find some other place to play?

It is ridiculous I am even writing about this. Please don’t get me started on the games that have replaced the hoops at Memorial Park. Just cut the locks at Flanigan and get the hoops up at Memorial. Who’s got next game?

I would provide the extra trash receptacles, or my time to help with this matter. There are good folks in the community that will help monitor these sites. If it’s a matter of drug dealing, gang activity or crime do you believe this is going to end because you took down the hoops? This can happen anywhere. You are just relocating this element to a different location, you have not solved the problem. These areas of our community need positive things like basketball now more than ever.

One last thought, the Bethune Douglas Community Center needs to be just that, a center to provide activities and services in that part of town. Instead of bucking the codes ordinance some rental owners should join together to help re-open the Center. Let’s start with the ones that knowingly accept drug money for rental payment. Don’t give me that line they don’t know where the money is coming from. Some of these property owners are respected members of the community. This would be a positive action instead of exploitation of these neighborhoods for financial gain. Just a thought.

Jim Webb

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