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Oak Lawn Park District Board stalls on hoops issue

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Updated: December 13, 2013 6:32AM



The basketball hoops at Oak Lawn’s Little Wolfe Playground will stay up for now.

The Oak Lawn Park District Board agreed Monday night to send a proposal to remove the hoops to a board committee for further discussion. Board president Sue Murphy said the board may consider the issue again within two months.

“This has to be the most impotent park district in the state,” village resident Tom Stefanos, 49, said after the meeting. “They need to focus like a laser beam on this park. It has nothing to do with race. It has nothing to do with people coming in from outside the community. It has to do with criminal activity.”

Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) and other residents have criticized the park’s basketball court, claiming it attracts troublemakers from outside the village. Quinlan proposed removing the hoops in September after a brawl near the park in which several youths, including some from outside the village, were injured.

About 20 residents showed up at Monday night’s meeting, and six spoke in favor of Quinlan’s proposal, including Quinlan who questioned a SouthtownStar report that published emails that two people sent her in support of the court. She said she received many more emails on the topic and urged the park board to consider the plight of her neighborhood.

“You guys on the board, you are not in my area, you are not near the park,” Quinlan said. “I firmly believe that if you (were), you would have a different opinion.”

Oak Lawn resident Pamela Mankowski said the people the basketball court attracts to the park “have no respect” for the community.

“I used to be proud of where I live,” Mankowski, 65, said. “Now I’m scared.”

Resident Michael Horan said the foul language that he hears at the park “is not so good for any age. I think something should be done about it. I think (the baskets) have to go down for that alone.”

Several park commissioners argued that taking the hoops down would hurt village children who want to play basketball and would shift the problems to other Oak Lawn parks.

“I don’t want to sit here and say ‘take all the nets down,’” Commissioner Donna McCauley said. “What about the children that want to play basketball and go out and shoot?”

Drawing jeers from the crowd, Commissioner Donald Andersen said he has heard from just as many people who want the hoops to remain up.

“You’re not the only ones that have a voice in this,” Andersen told the residents. “If we go as far as taking the nets down in the village so no one can play basketball, it’s not up to three or five people to make that decision. It’s a villagewide situation.”

After the board agreed to put off its decision, Murphy said she understood the crowd’s frustration.

“It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy,” she said of reaching a decision on the hoops issue. “Have patience, please.”



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