DOBBINS HEIGHTS — The town basketball court will remain closed until further notice.
That’s what the town council decided at Thursday night’s meeting following a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with a resident.
During the public comment session, James Whitt suggested temporarily patching the court so it could still be played on until it was repaired.
“You’ve been doing temporary things in Dobbins Heights,” he said. “Why not do another one?”
Mayor Antonio Blue said the court — which has been closed since June 13 — has several cracks ranging from two inches to 1.5 feet wide and is too dangerous to play on. He said opening the court in that condition would leave the town open to a lawsuit if someone is injured while playing on it.
“Dobbins Heights is not going to be sued over a basketball court,” he said. “It’s not gonna happen on my watch.”
Blue said the estimated cost to repair the court is $35,000; to replace it would cost $50,000. The total budget for parks and recreation is less than $25,000.
“If it’s going to be done, it’s going to be done right,” he said.
Blue and other council members said they were actively seeking funds to pay for it, including asking for donations.
“This basketball court means the world to me,” said Councilman Tyre Holloway. He said that court is where he learned to play basketball and made his first slam dunk. He said he nearly cried the night it closed.
Holloway said he had looked at patching, but agreed with Blue and said it would be “more financially sound to do it right.”
The mayor brought up the $250,000 in uncollected taxes — for which the council voted to enter a contract with a tax collection law firm — and said if that money is collected, “the basketball court is a dream come true.”
Whitt, who said he was one of the delinquent taxpayers, challenged Blue to “lead by example” and proposed that they both contribute a few bucks to the cause.
Blue said he had received phone calls about the court being closed, but no calls with donations to fix it.
“Do we want to do something that’s quick and wrong, or do we want it right, where it will last?” he asked.
Earlier in the meeting, Ronnie Hawks of Hawks Builders gave the council and public an update on the progress of the new community center. He said the floor slab and plumbing were in and the steel for the building should arrive July 16, with construction to begin the next day.
The council also voted to allow the AME Zion Christian Education Department to use the park for a “Back to School Bash” Aug. 16. In addition to games, food and music, any student who attends will receive school supplies.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.