CLARK, NJ – Drive by the basketball courts at the Clark Recreation Center any day of the week and it is buzzing with activity. People of all ages from all places gather there. There are young kids with parents, older kids with buddies and those just looking for a great pick-up game. It is a neighborhood basketball lover’s dream.
Several weeks ago, players showed up, ball in one hand and bottles of water in the other to find the rims had been removed from every backboard on every court. A simple sign was there instead, left by township employees that said, “You did not keep the courts clean, now the courts are closed.” The usual oasis of jump shots, lay-ups and dribbling was silent and empty.
According to Mayor Bonaccorso township personnel that maintain the property and had gotten to know so many of the regulars at the courts had asked them to please use the trash containers on the premises during their time on the courts. After repeated days of township workers having to retrieve dozens and dozens of water bottles and debris from all over the courts and surrounding areas, the mayor said he directed crews to take down the hoops.
“Our maintenance person asked the players on the courts numerous times to please use one of the four waste pails that surrounded the courts to properly dispose of their bottles,” said Bonaccorso. “So that was it, we shut it down.”
The sign remained in place as a reminder as the courts sat vacant for two weeks. Bonaccorso continued.
“We provide a beautiful facility to play, if the people using them don’t have respect for what we offer, we certainly aren’t cleaning up after them,” he said. “We are committed to maintaining that area for kids, and the taxpayers in this town pay a lot of money for us to keep it maintained."
The courts have since reopened and have quickly filled with the usual activity. These days the sign remains but has been changed to serve as a simple reminder to those on the courts to clean up behind themselves. So far, the message seems to have gotten through.