If you live in Three Rivers, and are a hooper of any level, you likely haven’t been happy with the condition of the downtown basketball courts for some time. Before the city added a second hoop to Memory Isle Park, downtown basketball players had to make do with a cracked backboard, a rim that seemingly bent toward the heavens, and a net in need of some serious TLC.
Basketball and those who play it have not seen the type of investment from the City of Three Rivers that runners and walkers, baseball and soccer players, or even pickle ball enthusiasts have received in recent years. Armstrong Park, even with all of the controversy surrounding its development, has proven to be a wonderful place for local kids to play organized sports, and for traveling teams from near and far to drop in for a tournament from time to time. Meyer Broadway Park is a great place to walk your dog, go for a hike or a run, and allows citizens to enjoy the great outdoors just beyond the city limits.
But these two recreational safe havens’ proximity to the heart of the city doesn’t exactly scream accessibility for those without a vehicle or the money to join the various youth sports held at Armstrong Park. Neighborhood skateparks, basketball courts, and open grass with no entry fees are paramount for low-income residents, and with Tuesday’s decision to approve the allocation of $17,000 to extend the Memory Isle basketball court from a half court to a full court, as well as the installation of a second hoop, the city commission chose to invest in an incredibly important and underserved demographic within our community.
While there is still plenty of work to be done in terms of bridging the gap between investments made in the city’s low-income neighborhoods versus those living above the poverty line, Tuesday’s decision was a small and important step in that direction. City Manager Joe Bippus and the Three Rivers City Commission, especially Commissioners Carolyn McNary and Clayton Lyczynski, and Mayor Tom Lowry, who pushed for the revamp, should be applauded for taking that step.
Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor for Watershed Voice.