Guilford’s parents were thrilled that the basketball courts would remain at the Public Safety Complex

GUILFORD — About five months after launching a campaign to save the popular Public Safety Complex basketball courts, fans are celebrating a victory.

“I think it was workplace democracy or people power,” said Julie Schlessel, a Guilford parent and Save the Courts! Facebook group. “I was not surprised because a lot of people use the courts.”

The city intended to move the courts from their location on Route 77 near the police and fire stations, to make room for a four-bay storage unit. The original plan was to move the 22-year-old pitch to Bittner Park Recreation Center, about 2.7 miles north of the current location.

Schlessel talked about the benefits of having the grounds fenced in there.

“There’s not much for teenagers to do and everyone uses it, not just teenagers,” she said, referring to the city’s activities.

“It’s an asset for the city to have the courts at the police station,” she added. “I wasn’t surprised because a lot of people use the courts and the basketball community uses the courts during programs, during the summer, during the year and there’s really nothing else available. .”

The fire and police departments have reached a solution that will preserve the courts, according to Guilford First Selectman Matt Hoey.

“We are moving forward with the addition of two bays at the north end of the fire department and will look to reconfigure the balance of space to give the police department additional storage capacity,” said he declared.

“But it involves a more comprehensive review of their facilities as we need to increase some of the facilities for our female officers,” he added. “When it was built we didn’t have the number of female officers that we have now and we hope to continue to have in the future.”

Hoey said it was not without reservations.

“The police department is worried,” he said. “But we will spend time working with planners to develop the best and highest use of the available property we have. I hope we can put something together. »

Hoey stressed that “we’re really going back to what was the original plan.”

“The original plan in 21, our capital request included exactly that – two additional bays for fire and then additional storage capacity for the police department,” he said. “We revisited the original plan.”

Schlessel said public pressure was important to keep the courts at the Public Safety Complex.

“All the pressure from the signs and the petitions… I think the public input made a big difference in their decision to keep the courts and get around the storage issues for police and fire,” she said .

Hoey agreed that “public outcry was clearly part of it. We had always considered the impact on the police courts.

“The public engagement has certainly helped, there’s no doubt about it,” he added.

“It showed our ability to revisit an item that we thought we had put to bed and it also showed a willingness on the part of the respective public safety entities to revisit what they had proposed,” he said.

“I think people had the opportunity to participate in the process and influence the process, so I’m happy with the outcome,” he added.

He stressed, however, that the city has found a solution this time around, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be talks about it in the future.

“I will caution, however, that this is still a public safety complex, there may be future needs,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re immediate or even short-term. At least for this lap, I think we have reached a good compromise.

Contact Sarah Page Kyrcz at [email protected]