COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - A view of the basketball court at Memory Isle Park Thursday. The Three Rivers City Commission voted Tuesday to expand the court, adding a 42-foot by 50-foot section and a second hoop to make it a full court. The project will cost $17,000 and be added to an existing project in the area.

City to expand Memory Isle basketball court

THREE RIVERS — A full basketball court will finally be returning to the central area of Three Rivers.

The Three Rivers City Commission Tuesday approved a change order to add a 42-foot by 50-foot section with a second hoop to the existing half-court basketball area at Memory Isle Park, creating central Three Rivers’ first full basketball court in recent memory. The project will cost $17,000 from the city’s fund balance and will be added on to an existing project updating the Memory Isle Trail later this fall. The project will be completed by Thompson Construction.

Currently, the only public outdoor full basketball court in the city is located at Elbert Foster Park on the corner of Broadway Street and Fourth Street.

The impetus of the expansion was the city commission themselves, who have received citizen concerns recently about parks and community investments in the city, in particular requesting the return of a centrally-located basketball court to the city. Proponents of a centrally-located court have said it would create more recreational opportunities for minority, youth and low-income communities in the city.

Resident Torrey Brown spoke on the matter during public comment, reminiscing on the last centrally-located full court in the area at Scidmore Park, where the farmer’s market area is today. He said he was “lucky” to be around when the Scidmore Park court existed, and said it built comradery not just in Three Rivers, but for surrounding communities as well.

“Yes, it’s a nice basketball park over on Broadway, but it’s not the same. There were two courts over here, and those courts were full every day over the summer. Kids always had something to do over the summer,” Brown said. “We’d be there from seven in the morning to seven at night. Now it’s pretty much nothing for African-American kids to do. Yes, they can play basketball over there, but nobody from out of town is coming and going over to Broadway to play ball. The competition isn’t there anymore, so you don’t get the same amount of people.”

Brown added that the courts also brought revenue to the city in the form of out-of-town visitors who played on the courts and visited neighboring businesses. While he said he was pleased the city was considering going through with the expansion down at Memory Isle, he said he was “confused” as to why the Scidmore courts were taken out in the first place.

Another resident, Alek Haak-Frost, said the basketball court expansion would improve accessibility for those living in the community.

“I think a lot of the things we invested in in recent years are great, but I think a lot of them are for people who are coming into this town, rather than the people that are living in this town. Not only activities, but just general investment into low-income residents, whether it be in the neighborhood or just like this, a basketball hoop,” Haak-Frost said. “Being able to do something without paying a league fee or waiting until a field isn’t being used, or if you don’t have transportation to the sports complex, there’s something to be said about convenience. I think it would bring great value to the people who live here.”

Prior to the vote, Mayor Tom Lowry commended the city commission for spearheading the project.

“The commission were the ones who advocated for this based on citizen comment, and I thank you for considering that,” Lowry said.

Following the meeting, City Manager Joe Bippus said the project would be beneficial for the community.

“It’s going to bring more recreational amenities to our central core area, which we’ve always prided ourselves on having a beautiful park and amenities for people,” Bippus said.

One of the commissioners who advocated for the expansion, Fourth District Commissioner Carolyn McNary, said after the meeting she was glad the city will be doing the project.

“I think it’s going to spark up downtown as far as people coming together,” McNary said. “It puts people together on a common ground; it’s going to be great. I appreciate the City Manager following up and making this happen.”

The voice vote to approve the expansion was unanimous.

In other business…

* The commission voted to schedule show cause hearings for two property owners at their next meeting for two separate alleged violations of city code. Both properties, located at 517 Forest Street and 317 S. Main St., and their owners are accused of being in violation of Section 30-12 of the code, which prohibits “accessory buildings on a residential lot that has no dwelling.”

* The commission approved a resolution to sell six acres in the Airport Industrial Complex to H&H Farms and Ryan Hunter for $60,000. According to city officials, H&H intends to build a truck wash for their fleet of vehicles at the location.

* The commission approved selling a 127.5-square foot triangular area of 920 W. Michigan Ave. to the Michigan Department of Transportation for $1,000 in order to help them facilitate a traffic signal upgrade project at the intersection of West Michigan Avenue and Douglas Street.

* The commission approved purchasing a new Ford MEDIX specialty ambulance for $149,892, due to the city’s newest ambulance being involved in a collision on U.S. 131 near Flowerfield Road. The city’s insurance gave the city $117,495.05 from their claim, and the remaining $32,396.95 would come out of the city’s Ambulance Enterprise Fund Balance.

* The commission approved the purchase of 24 800-MHz pagers for the Three Rivers Fire Department for $16,824 from Roe-Comm.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or

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