Courier Life’s

B-ball courts remain ‘foul’ - Ditchek confronts comish

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It’s an ugly part of Manhattan Beach that few notice unless they enter the park looking to play some ball.

But if you find the basketball courts by the Pat Parlato Playground full, don’t bother trekking over to the other side of Manhattan Beach – all you’ll find there is a padlocked fence and a whole lot of ragweed, broken glass and cracked cement.

Periodically, The Bay News has looked in on the dilapidated basketball courts located just behind the Manhattan Beach parking lot to see if any effort had been made to bring them back to life.

The last time this newspaper checked, the Parks Department assured us that inspectors had just recently been dispatched to survey the grounds.

A spokesperson even said that the perpetually cash-strapped agency was preparing a request for funding. Robert Varley – late of City Councilmember Mike Nelson’s office – suggested then that the funding to fix the basketball courts should already be in the budget.

That was months ago. Today the decaying Manhattan Beach basketball courts remain a disastrously impoverished sight.

At the June meeting of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, group president Dr. Alan Ditchek asked visiting Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel about the situation.

Spiegel – who was introduced as “someone who has always been there for us” – lamented the condition of the basketball courts and complained that the Parks Department does not benefit from direct capital funding.

“We are dependent on local elected officials,” Spiegel told residents gathered inside P.S. 195 on Irwin Street. “You have to lobby them.”

“I spoke to the city councilman,” Ditchek responded. “How do you get together and know how much money is needed?”

The commissioner conceded that it wouldn’t be difficult to do a “seat-of-the-pants estimate.”

“Repaving a basketball court is not a major undertaking,” Spiegel said. “I could have one of our architects take a look at it.”

If whipping up a repair estimate isn’t a problem, actually acquiring the funding needed to do the actual work appears to be.

“It’s harder to get money from the state,” Spiegel explained. “The borough president doesn’t get as much money as he used to.”

A couple of years ago, Borough President Marty Markowitz’s office and City Councilmember Mike Nelson chipped in a total of almost $1 million to install new planters and shrubs along Oriental Boulevard’s center medians.

Manhattan Beach residents who view the beautification effort as a hazard to drivers began criticizing the project before it was even completed.

Both the Manhattan Beach Community Group and the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association continue campaigning hard to have the planters and shrubs either removed or altered in some way so that they no longer pose a problem.

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