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Guilford Town Meeting Set for Basketball Court Conversation

By By Ben Rayner • 04/26/2022 04:09 pm EST

The Board of Selectman (BOS) announced last week that it is continuing on a path to keep the police basketball courts at their current site. Resident opposition to a proposed move has only grown since it became public that a plan was in the works to demolish the courts to allow for expansion of the emergency services complex. A Town Meeting will be agreed on the matter at 8:30 am on Monday, May 9 to solicit feedback from residents.

First Selectman Matt Hoey said that while no final plan has been enacted, he and the various departments involved are all committed to finding a solution that will keep the courts where they are. Hoey stressed that any plan would need to allow for the needed expansion for the emergency services complex, but he also said there is a potential for the possible construction of even more basketball courts at other sites.

“We are actively engaged in identifying alternatives at the site for the storage facilities in addition to keeping the courts there,” said Hoey at the April 18 BOS meeting. “As I said, we have re-engaged the engineering teams to try and contain the facilities on that property without removing the basketball courts. That’s one activity going on.”

The BOS also presents a potential scenario to build and or improve courts at two other sites in town, even if the police courts remain at their current location.

“That is a possibility. We are committed to resurfacing the courts at Adams, even if we don’t put a second court in, and replacing the light poles there, which are damaged. That is a natural place for kids to play and easily accessible as well. As far as Bittner, there is a growing demand for pickleball courts, so we are considering a combination of possibilities up there, as well as enhancing the skatepark.”

Hoey said a plan is forming with the cooperation of both police and fire officials to try and keep the courts at the current site. However, town officials stressed that no final decision has been made. Any plan would necessitate allowing for the full construction of the requested safety upgrades and structures that the respective emergency departments state are desperately needed to ensure resident safety.

At it April 18 meeting, the BOS also said that preliminary approval of an additional court at Adams Middle School as well as an upgrade of the current court situated there is a likely prospect.

“We are also looking at Bittner Park and we are looking at Adams as well. We have gotten permission for the Board of Education to [build another court at Adams] if that is appropriate there. We are going to do soil testing and make sure nothing would infringe on any wetlands, because there may be some wetlands near that area,” Hoey said. “It continues to move along. The lynch pin here is the continuing evaluation being conducted at the current site. This is at the initiation of the police chief and the fire chief as well as their commissions to see if we can go back to the drawing board and keep the courts there and still satisfy their need for storage of their safety equipment.”

The BOS is also considering a plan to construct another lighted court up at Bittner Park North. The current proposal is to construct hybrid pickleball/basketball courts that would accommodate that growing sport, and to have the courts lighted to extend the hours of use.

There would necessitate repositioning the skate park’s orientation, but according to town officials it would remain within close proximity to its current setting, possibly with added or enhanced features.

Check the town website for attendance details for the May 9 Town Meeting at 8:30 am at the Town Hall. The meeting is also scheduled for a hybrid Zoom presentation.

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