When Chris Manthei opened the July 1 Kingwood Service Association (KSA) parks committee meeting to comments or questions from the public, John Shaver, a Kingwood resident, voiced his concern about the ongoing closure of the basketball courts at Deer Ridge Park.
“Regarding the closed basketball courts at Deer Ridge Park, the rims have all been removed since COVID-19 began. I think it is time to hang them back up,” said Shaver. He pointed out the courts are just sitting there locked up and not available for use by anyone. He expressed his opinion that it was to now time to make them available for use.
Clay Lawson of Trailwood, and the committee’s steward for Deer Ridge Park, immediately responded to bring everyone up to date about serious problems at those basketball courts.
“We’ve had an issue that had been building up for some time prior to COVID-19. Which was kind of the icing on the cake. We’ve experienced a lot of ‘non-K’ (Kingwood) residents using those facilities almost to the point that it was probably, if I were to do a K-sticker survey, about 75% of the users’ cars on a regular basis were not K-stickered,” Lawson said. He said he was regularly out there every Monday and Wednesday. He often noticed there were a lot of people bringing their own stereo systems and playing their music very loud.
“Multiple parents had to go over there and ask the basketball players to quit using profanity because we had a young girls’ soccer team that practiced on an adjacent field,” Lawson said. He noted he also had issues more than once regarding littering, where he had to go out numerous times to pick up the litter, in addition to what the park maintenance caretaker was able to do.
“And we also had abuse and general destruction of the property. We had to replace the fences, the chain linking and the rim support structures two or three times. We got bent rims as a regular occurrence and with all that, in addition to COVID-19, that was why we had to take down the rims,” Lawson said. He noted when the courts were shut down for COVID-19, the gates were locked.
“And then someone went out there and started taking all the gates off at the hinges in order to gain access to the courts. We put them back on a couple of times but it continued to happen, so the only measure left was to take the basketball rims down entirely,” he said.
“So that’s where we are today. They are still down. I don’t know at what point or what will be the decision on putting the rims back up. That will be the committee’s decision,” Lawson said.
“Maybe we need to look at hiring a police officer and having him stationed up there, or some kind of security if there are that many concerns, obscene language, destruction and criminal mischief,” Shaver said.
The discussion by the committee was wide ranging. It included options for available increased security measures, including staff adjustments; increased towing enforcement of “non-K stickered” vehicles parked in the park’s parking areas and ensuring appropriate signage was well displayed, especially at the park entrances in and around the basketball courts.
Dee Price of Sand Creek emphasized the need for KSA to work with the various Deer Ridge Park sports groups regarding towing and when not to tow, specifically when their teams have scheduled games with visiting teams in the park.
After much discussion, the committee concluded several actions are needed in order to reopen the courts and, as Lawson suggested, “the sooner the better.” Manthei proposed setting a target date to resolve the issues with the objective to reopen the basketball courts by Aug. 1, the committee concurred.
KSA parks committee meetings are normally held the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room. However, the committee has decided to continue scheduling them using Zoom for teleconferencing for at least the August meeting or until COVID-19 restrictions are no longer felt to be necessary by committee members.