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Resident presses against park basketball court
Sam Ryno Park addition disruptive to one neighbor
Boys on spring break were using the basketball court at Sam Ryno Park on Tuesday afternoon. A resident in one of the homes that backs up to the park has an issue with those who use it. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The Buenaventura Drive resident who two weeks ago complained about the presence of a new basketball court at Sam Ryno Park was back before the Ceres City Council on Monday, demanding to know what action had been taken.

Lawrence Yohana complained on March 14 that the courts attract young men from the Crows Landing Road area of south Modesto who are disrupting his life with pot smoking, cussing, drug use, fights, public urinating, loud stereos, disrespectful attitudes and noise into the night. He asked the council to remove the half basketball court installed last year at the southwest Ceres park just behind his house.

Yohana had an abrasive exchange with City Manager Toby Wells during his appearance at Monday's meeting.

Wells told Yohana that he and Police Chief Brent Smith have spoken about his concerns and have increased patrols. Wells also said information was being gathered and would report back at the meeting on Monday, April 11.

"That's it? Nothing?" replied Yohana. "I have suggestions. Anyone want to hear them?"

Chief Smith suggested the two of them talk outside of the meeting.

"I was expecting more today," replied Yohana. "I was here two weeks ago. Nothing's been done for two weeks? Excuses? No excuses?"

Wells replied: "That's not an excuse. I've told you what we've done. We've met. We've gathered information, we've increased patrols, we'll gather the rest of the data like we said and report back to the council and the council will make the decision if there's any action taken."

Yohana suggested that if the council makes any decisions about basketball courts that they be placed "in your guy's neighborhoods."

Wells said that the city turns off the lights on the court at 10 p.m. but that some people continue to play by use of their flashlight feature on their cell phones. Possible solutions include basketball hoops that can be retracted remotely.

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.

Yohana's home backs up to the court and he said basketball playing continues until 11 p.m. some nights and when asked to refrain from playing at night many display disrespectful attitudes. Yohana said it seems like nonsense that lights stay on until 10 p.m. when the park rules state the park is closed an hour after sunset.

Wells said the lights are left on so people can see who is in the park at the same time.

The city manager said he understands Yohana's concerns but also noted that "people are using the park and they're using the basketball court - that's success. That's what we build this stuff for."

Wells refuted Yohana's claim that the courts are only being used by people living outside the city. He said city staff have observed use by local kids as they are seen walking to nearby homes when they're done. Wells opined that closing the court would be "the absolute backwards thing to do."