Selma Council continues basketball talks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2004

One Selma City Council member would like to see basketball courts built around the city instead of having children play ball in the streets.

Councilman James Durry presented two plans to the council at its Monday meeting in an effort to stop children from playing in the road. The first recommended using high school and elementary school gyms as well as parks and fields. The second suggested constructing five enclosed basketball courts across the city.

The cost of constructing one enclosed basketball court would be $80,000. The buildings wouldn’t go up at the

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same time, Durry said, but would instead be built over a period of years, if at all.

The council first discussed the possibility of banning ball playing in city streets at its Feb. 23 meeting. An ordinance, which would ban ball playing, states that, &uot;It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any kind of ball playing on the streets or sidewalks of the City of Selma.&uot;On Feb. 23, Mayor James Perkins Jr. said that if children couldn’t play ball on the streets, they must have facilities elsewhere. &uot;I appreciate your thinking it through and coming up with other solutions,&uot; Perkins said on Monday. &uot;However, I’d like the opportunity to discuss it. Let’s continue this dialogue because I think it’s healthy and it’s needed.&uot;

Council President George Evans agreed. &uot;It’s going to take meeting after meeting and money,&uot; Evans said. &uot;I don’t see it happening immediately.&uot;

Durry’s second plan recommends constructing outdoor basketball courts with fences. Crossing guards would be used as court supervisors. Construction costs for the courts would be $106,000. Additional funds would be needed to maintain the courts.

Perkins, however, said that the city needed an immediate solution. &uot;We have a problem now with kids in the streets,&uot; he said. &uot;We can’t ban it without an alternative.&uot;

Evans noted that the city could be liable for allowing children to use public property to play basketball. &uot;This is a work in progress,&uot; he said.