Ocean City Hoops Court Specifics Questioned

OCEAN CITY – Discussion surrounding the basketball courts at the proposed Downtown Recreation Complex continued at a Recreation and Parks meeting this week as complaints over the compromised court length were heard.

Pete Wimbrow III came before the Recreation and Parks Committee in July to voice concerns over the length of the new basketball courts at the proposed Downtown Recreation Complex, to be located on the bayside between 3rd and 4th streets. At that time, the plans were calling for a shortening of the courts from their current length of 84 feet to 74 feet. Wimbrow explained to the committee a minimum of 84 feet was needed. As a result, the plans were adjusted, bringing the courts back to the high school regulation length of 84 feet.

“This was the revised plan that we thought would be workable,” said Tom Shuster, director of Recreation and Parks, on Tuesday. Shuster explained that the plans would allow for them to maintain the walkway through the park and to meet the requests of the basketball players.

Wimbrow was not satisfied with the compromise, however, explaining that the amount of space provided was still not enough to play safely.

“Five feet from the baseline to the fence is one stride and that’s not enough, that’s just not safe,” he said.

Wimbrow explained that five feet was not enough space to stop momentum, noting that it was impossible to stop in one stride.

“This concept is promoting aesthetics over safety,” Wimbrow said, suggesting that the trees against the skate park be eliminated to allow for expansion of the courts.

Shuster pointed out there was nine feet from the backboard to the fence, while Wimbrow maintained at least 10 feet was necessary.

“I wouldn’t necessarily agree that five feet is not safe,” Shuster said, adding that the minimum requirement is generally three feet.

Shuster also added the city wanted the walkway to feel spatially pleasing for pedestrians as well as be wide enough for maintenance vehicles to drive through. Shuster maintained it was a mix of aesthetics and function that was motivating the decision.

“I think you’ve got to look at the park as a whole,” said Councilman Jim Hall, pointing out the importance of the walkway though the entirety of the park.

“I think we need a compromise here,” said Council President Jim Mitrecic, “I don’t disagree that there is a certain amount of a safety issue.”

Hall suggested that the issue be taken before the City Council, pointing out that because the park is still waiting for a deed or long-term lease from the county, nothing could be done anyway. The committee agreed to table the issue until the fate of the park is determined.