Monday night, Jesse Owens Park hosted the West Coast Ballislife Crew. Ballislife barnstorms the country challenging local players to play basketball at local courts. 1500 people showed up to the event.
Among the players were nationally known figures on the “streetball” circuit such as international slam dunk champion Kenny Dobbs and former Harlem Globetrotter Tor’i “Bionic” Brooks.
Among the spectators was 600-700 young people and the Ballislife players stayed behind to sign autographs, give away merchandise and spend time with the kids. It was a great event and I was happy to participate. I’d love to tell you that I dunked on Dobbs, but, well, you know.
Whether it’s the Wildcats, FC Tucson or any of the other college and professional athletics we have in Tucson, it’s good that we are providing healthy examples and entertainment for young people. It’s more important, however, to make sure that we have places for them to play once they get turned on to athletics.
One of the projects I’ve been working on lately has been opening up more basketball courts. Luckily, we already have many across the city that don’t get as much use as they could. I’m talking about the courts that are on school playgrounds.
Last year, I began talking to TUSD about helping them get shade structures for the courts (this makes them more useable year around) and having the courts open to the broader public outside of school hours.
This isn’t unprecedented. We have many situations where parts of school grounds are open to the public when school isn’t in session. Here in Ward 2, we even have an agreement with a private school, St. Michaels, for a small park in the Harold Bell Wright neighborhood.
Last week, Mayor and Council passed an agreement with TUSD to shade and open some courts. The complete list has yet to be finalized, but two of the shade structures will be going in at Gridley and Magee Middle Schools here in Ward 2. The courts at Gridley are next to a fire station, so I’m hoping they can provide some fun downtime for our firefighters.
We still have a long way to go to get more recreational opportunities for youth in Tucson. I will continue to work to improve and expand our parks.
The City of Tucson is advising the public to use caution over the next few days when traveling through southern Arizona because of a powerful storm system moving through the region. Forecasts from the National Weather Service show an increased chance of thunderstorms and heavy rainfall with the possibility of flash flooding through Saturday night.
As washes flood, Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility (DTM) crews are closing roadways at affected dip crossings and washes. DTM is also assisting residents concerned with flooding by offering free, self-serve sandbags in the east parking lot of Hi Corbett Field, 700 S. Randolph Way, at Reid Park. This location is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please bring your own shovel.
You can find flood safety information from the Pima County Regional Flood Control District at www.pima.gov/BeFloodSafe. The site includes information on how to sign up for flood and other emergency alerts from the Pima County Office of Emergency Management. For the latest on road conditions and closures, call the Road Conditions Hotline at (520) 547-7510 or visit the Pima County Department of Transportation’s Road Closure Updates website.