The city has approved a proposal by the Nelson Hoops Association to construct a regulation-sized basketball court at Lakeside Park, over 10 years after a similar proposal by two enterprising young men was denied by the council of the day.
As well, the city approved an in-kind contribution of up to $7,500 to cover city staff time and material for the work associated with the project.
The time and money contribution are well spent, said Coun. Rik Logtenberg.
“It’s a small amount compared to the great asset we are bringing to the community,” he said.
Fellow councillor Keith Page agreed. He appreciated the way the Hoops Association pooled and pulled resources together to present the proposal to council, making it a slam dunk decision for the elected officials.
“This is exactly the way we want to see our community come forward as a group, with an idea of funding and taking an asset that we currently have and making it better and moving it to a more professional stance,” he said.
Coun. Cal Renwick noted the way the Hoops Association leaned on Jim Sevigny of Nelson Minor Baseball — who completed a complete refurbishment of Queen Elizabeth Park last year — for guidance in assembling the pieces of the project.
“It’s nice to see those groups working together and helping each other out,” he said.
And the finished project will be another low-barrier piece to add to the recreational puzzle in the city, said Coun. Jesse Woodward, with minimal equipment needed to get out and play.
“These kind of things are really great to get people out and about,” he said.
Council also directed city staff to engage the Nelson Italian Canadian Society (NICS) to explore relocation options for the bocce courts at Lakeside Park.
Court of dreams
The Nelson Hoops Association presented the Lakeside Park outdoor basketball court re-development proposal to council in late July to build on the bocce site — currently occupied by the Nelson Italian-Canadian Society — with the idea of constructing three courts on the site, including one full-sized.
Jeremy Phelan, president of the Nelson Hoops Association (NHA), said there currently was a partial court at the Lakeside tennis court — as well as a larger facility at Trafalgar Middle School — but the rest of the outdoor courts throughout the city were too small and were not level.
It made them unsuitable for any decent games, Phelan told council, and the NHA was unable to host any proper outdoor senior men’s league games or tournaments.
The $175,000 Lakeside proposal — using a combination of grants, fundraising and in-kind donations — would deliver the venue the NHA, which has been in operation since 2013, has been looking for, said Phelan.
“We are looking to provide amenities that are accessible to everybody,” he said, adding that Lakeside would allow them to redevelop something that is close to regulation in a central location. “This is something for the kids that, growing up, they are going to have something better to play on.”
The court proposal — north of the tennis courts — would include a fenced area with lights, four to six rims (more access to courts) and one full regulation court for games and tournaments.
The Lakeside court is currently on the tennis courts as a shared space.
“There are always people down there playing so there is the need to for more court space,” Phelan said, adding that a campaign to gauge interest in the project collected over 1,200 signatures.
In return for the Lakeside space, the NHA would provide the Italian-Canadian Society in-kind support and a place for them to re-locate to.
By the numbers
The total estimated cost of the project was $174,313.
However, the Hoops Association has been successful in securing most of the funding required and only needed the land contribution from the city, and the assurance that the electrical load was adequate to manage the lighting requirements.
Nelson Hydro has provided two viable options to powering the lights for the proposed basketball courts. The first option — the one recommended by the city-owned utility — could cost upwards of $5,000, not including staff resources, but leaves room to expand the electrical load for additional uses that are not related to the basketball courts (like food trucks).