Sykesville council delays vote on ban of basketball hoops on town streets

October 15, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Faced last night with a roomful of opponents to a proposed ban on outdoor sports equipment on municipal streets, the Sykesville Town Council tabled the issue for 30 days to discuss revisions to the draft ordinance.

The unanimous decision to put off a vote on the ban came at a meeting that included a public hearing on the proposal and drew about 35 people, many of whom said the council was overstepping its bounds. Among the proposed revisions would be the establishment of safety zones on low-traffic cul-de-sacs.

"The entire state is watching you and will learn by what you do," said Ivy Wells of Patterson Court. "The analogy is that you are trying to take Santa Claus away from kids."

Wells said that she didn't think anything she could say would change the council's mind and asked when the next council election would be held.

Proponents of the law said it would protect children by keeping them out of the streets, and it would shield the town from potential lawsuits.

"The street is not a place to play," said David Hohenberger, of Revere Court, who noted that he fully supports the ban.

Hohenberger said his vehicle was damaged by a basketball, and he grazed a child playing in the street with the mirror of his vehicle.

"How did we get to this point where parents are defending the inherent right of children to play in the streets?" police Chief John R. Williams Jr. asked earlier yesterday. "I wish people would channel this energy into finding alternatives to street ball."

The ordinance prohibits basketball hoops from the public rights of way in Sykesville, where nearly 100 of them hang over roadways. Officials say the hoops slow traffic and have caused damage to municipal vehicles.

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