On May 31, I held a District 2 Information meeting, with planned changes to Rembrandt Park topping the agenda. With Harold Cammy, the Manager of Sports and Facilities from our Parks and Recreation Department on hand, we provided an extensive overview of the proposal. Since work is only scheduled to commence in September, I wanted to make sure to get the comments of local residents. I had actually begun this process during my door to door campaign last fall. Prior to my meeting, Bialik High School students Gabriel Alon and Zack Campbell circulated in the area and surveyed individuals.
There were more than 60 people in attendance May 31. I also received a lot of telephone calls and emails prior to and after that meeting. What we shared with those on hand that night were plans rebuild and reposition the existing two tennis courts, added four more, remove the basketball courts completely, construct a small parking lot on the Merrimac side and begin the process of changing the lighting.
It is important to note that since my election in 2005 there has been a lot of attention devoted to Rembrandt Park. First and foremost we returned its original name after the short lived borough rechristened it Côte Saint-Luc Park. The soccer pit was filled and brought up to street level, alleviating am opportunity for hoodlums to hide out late at night and repeatedly dump benches down the hill. We replaced some of the park equipment and introduced a beautiful water play area.
Why get rid of the basketball courts? For the past number of years seniors have complained that the courts attract young people from outside of the community late at night who are up to no good. At the May 31 meeting and via other correspondence there were those who came forward suggesting that the courts stay, but perhaps be relocated near the street so that Public Security and the police can get a better view of things. Many of the residents felt that six tennis courts were too many. As for the parking lot, this was not well received either.
Well this is precisely why I believe in public consultation. We took the results of what we heard to the Tennis Committee, chaired by Allan J. Levine. Thanks to Mr. Cammy and Director of Parks and Recreation David Taveroff we were able to come up with some excellent alternatives, which I am very pleased to report have now been accepted by council.
-We will build five tennis courts instead of six. The two originals will “not” be rebuilt or repositioned. In fact one will become the city’s very first court for mini-tennis for young children. Mini tennis courts are portable and easy to set up. Playing tennis on a mini court is just like playing on a real court except that the dimensions are smaller and you use a special foam tennis ball designed for playing on a smaller court. Using a mini tennis court is a great way to teach young kids how to play tennis. Having the smaller court makes it much easier for them to work on their ground strokes and learn the rules of tennis. They also get to spend more time learning how to hit proper strokes as opposed to chasing down balls all over a full size court. But it’s not just for kids either. Adults can use a mini tennis court as well to work on their own game and footwork. Since the court is much smaller it focuses more on hitting well placed shots and require much less running. See the video below.
-The basketball court as it stands now will be removed and replaced with a nice section of green space, hopefully with a few benches. However, as a compromise solution we will construct a new half basketball court. This will alleviate the threat of outsiders coming to play pickup games, but enable locals to shoot some hoops. This includes the father or grandfather who wants to come out with one of their youngsters.
-The half basketball court will be near street level in the spot originally reserved for a parking lot, which we have removed from the plan.
I am excited about this project and thank everyone for their feedback and cooperation.