I have been a resident of Wachapreague for almost 30 years and have seen changes like many other small towns on the Shore. Old-timers are passing away, and others are leaving for better jobs and opportunities.
My wife and I have been involved in the local community for some time and help any way possible trying to make our “little city by the sea” a better place for all who live here or just come to visit.
One of the things we have done over the last several years is taking care of our Powell Park. With the help of the town employees and the local Coast Guard station, we try and keep the park clean for visitors and residents alike to come and enjoy. We have cleaned up and used the softball field on a regular basis, cut and trimmed the trees, painted and added new swings to the playground area, and even added a dog park. And four years ago we added two basketball hoops to the tennis court.
Not much tennis is played anymore but the local older pickleballers use it a lot once the weather warms. Since the hoops were installed, hundreds of people come and just shoot around, play a game of 21, or play pickup games. Families come and spend hours having the smaller children play on swings as the older kids and parents play some basketball. The local Coast Guard station also uses it for physical training. Even kids from the families that come in for the annual flounder tournament look forward to playing some ball.
So it came as a surprise as four members of our local Town Council would vote to take down the basketball hoops after a couple residents complained of the noise coming from the court. One resident complained of vulgar language, urinating, and even people exposing themselves. Another resident has said that she feels threatened by the people who play there.
So I would like know who or what group of people they are talking about? Is it the families, local children, the Coast Guard, or the young men that come and play? Last September, the hoops magically disappeared, as they were stolen from the park. A local resident donated a new backboard and hoop, and it was installed. Since then, the local deputies have been called a couple of times because of noise, but they didn’t stop because the young men were just playing basketball. Also, since the hoops were stolen, I installed two deer cameras in that area and have not seen any fighting or exposing to residents. The town was in the process of trying to get a port-a-potty to that specific area to help, and also a privacy tarp was offered to be installed on the side in question, as this would help with the view and noise.
But to no avail, and not hearing anything from the other end of the spectrum who want to keep the hoops, the council voted to take them down. How does that look to the public or what statement does that send to all the families and young men who play there? Not a good one, as the council voted four to two, which pleased two residents because they are banging the loudest drum.
Also, it is a PUBLIC PARK.
The next Town Council meeting is May 12, at 7 p.m. So if you are interested in voicing your opinion about this, please show up and speak.