City officials decided on Monday to try a new tact in alleviating the nuisances created by those who aren't supposed to use the basketball court inside Sam Ryno Park after hours.
The hoops will be locked up at dusk.
The exact method has yet to be identified but could involve Ontel Security or police officers locking up the basketball hoops or buying a retractable hoop controlled remotely. The idea is to prevent young men - who have been the source of irritation with behavior during dark hours - from playing basketball.
Laurence Yohana has been complaining to the Ceres City Council about pot smoking, cursing, fighting, loud music urination, loitering and disrespectful attitudes brought on by use of the basketball court, which was opened in May 2015. Yohana, a resident of Buenaventura Drive, asked the city to remove the court. City staff members tried to remedy the problem by having the lights turned off at 10 p.m. and stepping up Ontel and police patrols. City Manager Toby Wells told the council that calls to police have dropped off but suggested that residents may just be tired of calling. He also said the city may look to see if other ambient park light sources could be turned off.
Wells said the city is exploring the idea of getting the Ceres Unified School District to open up school campus basketball courts to the public as a way of alleviating the heavy use of the Ryno Park court. Wells suggested a double fence or double gate system could allow the public to use courts while not being able to roam onto campuses like Sinclear Elementary School.
The council toyed with the idea of a fence around the entire court but seemed less enthusiastic when Wes Stamper indicated that the cost might be $35,000.
Before the city started the design on Sam Ryno Park, the city reached out to the neighborhood with door hangers and only one resident showed up. Councilman Ken Lane said it was unfortunate that residents did not provide input when the city was designing the court and children's play area but he said he will "never will take away recreation from kids; I mean they sit in front of TVs enough."
Lane said "if things don't work out we can look at something else, I suppose."
Councilman Bret Durossette, who is also a coach at Ceres High School, said he can sympathize with the problem neighbors are experiencing because of a few bad apples.
Councilmember Linda Ryno agreed with Lane.
"I think it would be awful to remove the basketball hoop because I know there are a lot of good kids who do go out there and use it," said Ryno. "I think we need to look at, potentially, putting up a fence..."
Citizen Leonard Shepherd suggested a fence with barbed wire on the top to keep out people after hours.
Robert Hall, another resident, suggested that police crackdown on loiterers with citations to drive the problem away. Police Chief Brent Smith said his officers have issued citations but they don't seem to faze the abusers.
Wells said the city has even contemplated turning on the sprinklers on the court to prevent use.