Ranch supervisors study lighting basketball courts for local youth

dgraham@bradenton.comMarch 20, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Basketball and youth and how they spend their time in Community Development District 1, serving Summerfield and Riverwalk, captured the attention of district supervisors during Tuesday's workshop meeting.

What began as a discussion of a paid private security patrol ended with a decision to look into the cost of keeping the park basketball courts lighted into the evening, as the board recognized the need for more activities for youth.

"I still believe we have a weakness in Lakewood Ranch. It is not a lot of fun to live here for kids because there's not a lot for them to do when they don't drive. So the kids are carousing around," said superintendent Alan Roth.

The only other lit court would be the athletic center (off University Parkway and Legacy Boulevard), which nobody knows how to get to," said Ryan Heise, director of operations.

"The other one is Longwood Run, and the people who use it are high schoolers or young adults. At that hour of the day you don't usually get the grade-schoolers," Heise said.

Roth, who began the discussion by saying the district needed to hear from the neighbors about whether they wanted to continue the private security patrol they pay for 60 hours a week, encouraged the idea of lighted basketball courts and requested Heise find out cost estimates.

"I think we can provide lighted basketball," he said. "If it turns out it doesn't work out, we just turn the lights off or just use them on weekends."

However, he was against decreasing the hours of security patrol to less than 60 since he saw the most effective patrol times when the youth are out of school.

"The only reason I would vote against the security patrol -- other than I don't think they do that much good -- is that we could take that $25,000 a year over 10 years and it would add up to a quarter of a million we could spend on something else," he said. "People just don't want to call the police. I don't know why."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext.7041 or tweet@DeeGrahamBH.

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