WASHINGTON — UPDATE:
WASHINGTON, La. - The Mayor of Washington, James Olivier has responded to the removal of basketball goals at the only rec center in Washington in a letter to KATC.
On Monday, several people noticed basketball goals were being taken down outside of the Washington Rec Center. Residents in the town and Alderwoman-at-large Mona Wilson voiced their concerns about the removal of the goals.
In a letter sent on Friday, Oliver says that the hoops were removed because the basketball courts had become a gathering place for residents and non-residents and used well into the night, disturbing those residents who live nearby. In our first report, Olivier provided the same explanation as to why the goals were removed.
To further explain, the mayor provided a portion of an ordinance on curfews in the town.
The letter states that the choice was made to remove the hoops as an alternative to arresting those at the basketball courts after hours who are underage. They would be down until the Town could determine that the center was insured and public notice could be posted at the site reminding users about the curfew.
"There is no intention to deprive any Washington citizens or visitors accompanied by Washington citizens from using the court. The goal of the removal was to allow the administration to ensure the Town was adequately insured for the current use and to establish a method of conveying current ordinances by Notice," the letter states.
The hoops have been replaced.
Read the full letter sent to KATC from Mayor Oliver below:
ORIGINAL STORY FROM 12/03/2019
14-year-old Bryant Cain and his younger brothers live in Lafayette, but stay at their uncle's home in Washington quite often. Right by their house in the Washington Recreation Center, the only place in town that he and their friends can play basketball.
"It feels good, I have been playing basketball for a very long time," Cain said.
He says every time they visit, they go shoot hoops...until recently. Mayor James Olivier had the basketball hoops removed Monday evening.
"I just feel bad for kids, I bet they're crying right now, saying why are they taking down the goals, because sports is everything to me," Cain said.
Alderwoman-at-large Mona Wilson says the removal of the goals was a complete shock to her.
"The children need somewhere to go, and I thought this was a negative thing to have them removed and not let anyone know," Wilson said.
Olivier spoke to KATC on the phone and said that over the weekend, authorities received noise complaints during after hours. He said he wasn't sure if the insurance covered the area.
Wilson says as a rental pavilion, it should be covered.
"As a municipality we should have liability insurance, and that should fall within the liability loop. This building, as well this facility right here, the pavilion should be in the liability loop," Wilson said.
Wilson says the removal should have been brought before the council. In two weeks, she will bring up the issue at the next council meeting.
"It's supposed to come to the council, and this was not brought to the council," Wilson said.
Olivier would not speak on camera, but says he is waiting to hear back from the insurance company and the goals will be back before the summer.