new basketball courts, Dehart Park - social distancing? uh, no...

We here in NJ have been cooped up for months, & it's understandable the young want to be outside & active, however did anyone in city or county government consider when they decided to install the basketball hoops on the new court in Dehart Park on Burnett Ave., that within hours the plastic covering the  hoops would be ripped off and about a hundred kids (mostly from Irvington and Union from what I could gather) would be on the courts, with not a single face mask in sight?  Did anyone consider that dozens of young kids running, jumping and grappling withing arms length of each other during an pandemic was maybe, a bad idea? That, oh, maybe NOT mounting the backboards might have been the safer way to go?  I understand we all want a return to normality, but wouldn't it have made more sense to not encourage people to gather in a mob in a small area?


I am interested to learn about your research methods that led to you know that these children were from Irvington and Union and not Maplewood, South Orange, or any other towns. 


The jacoby section of Maplewood is majority African American. Hope you didn’t call the police about suspicious looking people in Maplewood. 


The basketball court at DeHart has been in the planning stage for years.  That planning did not include a pandemic coinciding with the court being completed.  Did the town officially open the court for play or did the persons you saw on he court decide to play on the court despite fencing or police tape that would indicate the courts were not yet available for play?  If officially open, were there signs limiting the number of people who could be on the court?  Requiring face coverings? Limiting play to drills for now so social distancing could be maintained? If the new basketball court has become the public health hazard you describe, the course of action would be to close it in until the threat of pandemic is over.  As to who may or may not have been on the court, since virtually all of Maplewood parks have been declared green space and therefore open to all, the residence of the players is not pertinent to the discussion.


In many towns, signs at courts that are now open say they are for casual shooting of baskets only, no actual play or games. However, I don't know how likely it is for teens to abide by that, human nature being what it is. I often feel these days we get to points where there are no good answers...


Heynj said:

In many towns, signs at courts that are now open say they are for casual shooting of baskets only, no actual play or games. However, I don't know how likely it is for teens to abide by that, human nature being what it is. I often feel these days we get to points where there are no good answers...

 There are always good answers.  The good answers are not necessarily good solutions as far as large segments of the population are concerned. 


There is no social distancing in Basketball, Soccer, Football, Volleyball or any other team sport.


mayor_mccheese said:

I am interested to learn about your research methods that led to you know that these children were from Irvington and Union and not Maplewood, South Orange, or any other towns. 

 Yes, there's an incredible technique called asking them where they are from...


apser said:

 Yes, there's an incredible technique called asking them where they are from...

 and in the course of you're committing no crime, are you obligated to identify yourself or your address?  Supreme Court says you are not, until a c.o.p. says you are under arrest.


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 and in the course of you're committing no crime, are you obligated to identify yourself or your address?  Supreme Court says you are not, until a c.o.p. says you are under arrest.

The OP said the players were mostly from Irvington and Union. Someone asked how the OP knew that. By asking them, the OP replied. No obligation implied.


apser said:

 Yes, there's an incredible technique called asking them where they are from...

 Need clarification. Did YOU ask the tykes where they were from? Or are you suggesting that authorities ask them?


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 Need clarification. Did YOU ask the tykes where they were from? Or are you suggesting that authorities ask them?

Firstly, I didn't interrogate anyone; I joined in their basketball game (with my face mask on) and conversed with them... as a Latino myself, growing up in Newark, I visited municipal parks in other towns. What I never did though was drive dirt bikes thru them, or leave used condoms and marijuana butts there, or blast music until 11:00 PM, things which have gotten worse and worse in Dehart over the 20 years I've lived here.


So you posted this topic to complain about the addition of basketball courts and a lack of social distancing... but then say you participated in the activity that you are complaining about? 



Uh oh... Run baby!




mayor_mccheese said:

So you posted this topic to complain about the addition of basketball courts and a lack of social distancing... but then say you participated in the activity that you are complaining about? 

 I was shooting around and chatting with the guys while the crowed was sparse and was able to maintain some kind of social distance  - once the court started filling up, I left..

so, no I'm not a hypocrite.


I’m not buyin’ it. 


here's a lovely shot I took just this morning, of how our new out-of-town Dehart park visitors are contributing to what was once a lovely, peaceful place for the neighborhood to relax... thanks town council..


apser said:

We here in NJ have been cooped up for months, & it's understandable the young want to be outside & active, however did anyone in city or county government consider when they decided to install the basketball hoops on the new court in Dehart Park on Burnett Ave., that within hours the plastic covering the  hoops would be ripped off and about a hundred kids (mostly from Irvington and Union from what I could gather) would be on the courts, with not a single face mask in sight?  Did anyone consider that dozens of young kids running, jumping and grappling withing arms length of each other during an pandemic was maybe, a bad idea? That, oh, maybe NOT mounting the backboards might have been the safer way to go?  I understand we all want a return to normality, but wouldn't it have made more sense to not encourage people to gather in a mob in a small area?

 UGGH! I KNEW those courts would be a major problem! I used to frequent Dehart with the kids because it's walking distance, the park used to be small quiet and lovely, Over the years it's become rowdy with obvious out of towners, it's not difficult to tell they kids/teens/adults are from another area. The way they play, and engage tells you right away, they throw their trash, they're rough on the equipment and the parents Don't enforce rules and or have them use their manners. Anyway, when I saw the model for the court I thought "Great, a nice addition to the park" BUT I knew it would bring a lot of out of towners. Most basketball courts these days don't have the net. I hope they will appreciate the court and not ruin it. Nothing against people coming from other areas, I have my issue with the lack of respect for the park and it's equipment 


apser said:

here's a lovely shot I took just this morning, of how our new out-of-town Dehart park visitors are contributing to what was once a lovely, peaceful place for the neighborhood to relax... thanks town council..

 UGGH! This is NOT ok and so disrespectful.  I am annoyed just by looking at this photo. It will get cleaned up, they'll return and see that it looks like new and proceed to do the same thing again because" Somebody will clean it up" it's like they want to enjoy the nice things but then they're angry because they don't have the nice things. If that makes sense. 


apser said:

Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 Need clarification. Did YOU ask the tykes where they were from? Or are you suggesting that authorities ask them?

Firstly, I didn't interrogate anyone; I joined in their basketball game (with my face mask on) and conversed with them... as a Latino myself, growing up in Newark, I visited municipal parks in other towns. What I never did though was drive dirt bikes thru them, or leave used condoms and marijuana butts there, or blast music until 11:00 PM, things which have gotten worse and worse in Dehart over the 20 years I've lived here.

So you conversed with a few and deducted that most of the one hundred kids (or "mob") were from Union and Irvington?


yahooyahoo said:

So you conversed with a few and deducted that most of the one hundred kids (or "mob") were from Union and Irvington?

 yes, I deduced that, the fact that I've lived in the neighborhood, on the border of both towns for twenty years, notwithstanding....  

I also based my deduction on having had the ofttimes delightful experience of chasing out-of-town kids out of the yards and driveways of every single one of my neighbors homes, while they were endeavoring to steal stuff off their decks & from their garages, not to mention my own.   

I happen to have many friends and co-workers who live in Irvington and Union, who in years past would visit and enjoy Dehart park just as I and my neighbors have, and respected and treated the space as their own.  The picture I posted above should attest to the level of neighborliness we can look forward to from those currently frequenting the basketball courts.  They clearly could care less; having had to call the cops any number of times in the past when visitors mobbed the soccer field, with 'Please Stay Off The Field" groundskeeper signs everywhere, or folks riding motorcycles and dirt bikes thru the park, I have tried my best to make sure Dehart Park remained as it was, a safe, peaceful haven.   I fear with this latest addition, those days are gone. (here's a second photo from this morning, other side of court..)


apser said:

 yes, I deduced that, the fact that I've lived in the neighborhood, on the border of both towns for twenty years, notwithstanding....  

I also based my deduction on having had the ofttimes delightful experience of chasing out-of-town kids out of the yards and driveways of every single one of my neighbors homes, while they were endeavoring to steal stuff off their decks & from their garages, not to mention my own.   

I happen to have many friends and co-workers who live in Irvington and Union, who in years past would visit and enjoy Dehart park just as I and my neighbors have, and respected and treated the space as their own.  The picture I posted above should attest to the level of neighborliness we can look forward to from those currently frequenting the basketball courts.  They clearly could care less; having had to call the cops any number of times in the past when visitors mobbed the soccer field, with 'Please Stay Off The Field" groundskeeper signs everywhere, or folks riding motorcycles and dirt bikes thru the park, I have tried my best to make sure Dehart Park remained as it was, a safe, peaceful haven.   I fear with this latest addition, those days are gone. (here's a second photo from this morning, other side of court..)

 Looks like the garbage cans were not installed.  This issue occurred at other parks and courts in town. Looks like it's an easy fix.


Shap said:

 Looks like the garbage cans were not installed.  This issue occurred at other parks and courts in town. Looks like it's an easy fix.

 How will installing trash cans help with the observed lack of social distancing?  Unless these trash cans are used to block access to the field, how will they help keep the observed bike riders off the ball field?  


joan_crystal said:

 How will installing trash cans help with the observed lack of social distancing?  Unless these trash cans are used to block access to the field, how will they help keep the observed bike riders off the ball field?  

 Trash cans are to correct the problem of litter in the park. They have nothing to do with bike riding.

They might work to improve social distance if they are placed 6 ft away from each other in the basketball area and require shooters to shoot while standing in the cans.


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 Trash cans are to correct the problem of litter in the park. They have nothing to do with bike riding.

They might work to improve social distance if they are placed 6 ft away from each other in the basketball area and require shooters to shoot while standing in the cans.

That is precisely my point.  The problems at DeHart Park as reported by posters to this thread will not be solved easily.  The trash shown outside of the basketball court is incidental compared with park visitors ignoring the requirement to wear a face covering when social distancing is not practicable, not practicing social distancing at all when in the park, going onto the fenced in sports field when a scheduled game or practice is not in progress, bike/motor cycle riding on the field and paths, etc. 

What is needed is assigning a social distancing ambassador to DeHart during hours when such practice is most prevalent.  An ambassador can speak with those unaware of the importance of observing State health guidelines, hand out a face covering to those who did not bring one to the park with them, and identify issues that may require action beyond having an ambassador present.  

The social distancing ambassador program is a new town initiative that is expected to start very shortly according to statements made at the most recent township committee meeting.  


joan_crystal said:

That is precisely my point.  The problems at DeHart Park by reported by posters to this thread will not be solved easily.  The trash shown outside of the basketball court is incidental compared with park visitors ignoring the requirement to wear a face covering when social distancing is not practicable, not practicing social distancing at all when in the park, going onto the fenced in sports field when a scheduled game or practice is not in progress, bike/motor cycle riding on the field and paths, etc. 

What is needed is assigning a social distancing ambassador to DeHart during hours when such practice is most prevalent.  An ambassador can speak with those unaware of the importance of observing State health guidelines, hand out a face covering to those who did not bring one to the park with them, and identify issues that may require action beyond having an ambassador present.  

The social distancing ambassador program is a new town initiative that is expected to start very shortly according to statements made at the most recent township committee meeting.  

 That has potential.

S.D. Ambassador: " You know, you should wear a mask because....... and.....and..."

Basketball player (Who knows the rules but doesn't give a hoot): ".... you."


This thread is starting to be fun.


Realistically, there are going to be people who do not obey the social distancing guidelines.  If there are too many, then they will ruin it for everybody.

But there is not a lot we can do in this situation.  The op asserts that the problem comes from other towns, which, if true, means that there are insufficient recreational facilities in those towns, so shame on them.  But we cannot legally close our parks to people from other towns.  Maplewood has taken money from the state and the conditions on that money include open access.

Appointing a public shamer or mask ambassador (and those are two different things, not two names for the same thing) is only going to work if the person is a recognizable figure to the people they are trying to influence.  I could walk across my local park and tell the skateboarders (who are all locals) to put on masks and there is no way I would succeed.  Nothing I could possible say will give me any credibility with them.  They need to hear it from one of their own.  This is not meant to throw aspersion on teenagers, because it is a problem across the country with adults, too, and a big part of the large number of cases the country is experiencing in the south and west.

It is frustrating, and does not speak to other problems other posters have mentioned at Dehart.  But from a mask perspective, the best we can do is model right behavior and avoid situations where people are behaving irresponsibly.


The alternative to social distancing ambassadors is involving the police.  Nobody wants that.  If even a few people's behavior is changed as a result of this program, wouldn't that result in fewer people for the teenagers you mention to pattern their behavior after?  It is not just teenagers on skateboards, there are plenty of 20 - 40 somethings who are disregarding face cover wearing and social distancing. If a gentle reminder can influence their behavior, it will be a start.


Max has the right idea. Model correct behavior. Perhaps some signs might be good concerning wearing  masks and especially getting rid of garbage. Are there garbage cans available? Being an ambassador is a job that must be dealt with very carefully. Could cause repercussions.



In order to add a comment – you must Join this community – Click here to do so.