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Mayor asks Police to Keep "Unauthorized Players" Off Courts

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi has called for an end to unofficial games on certain basketball courts in the town, instructing police to keep unauthorized players off the Evan Park courts.

Only members of town-sanctioned game or leagues will be officially allowed to use the courts on Fruit Hill Avenue.

North Providence Police told NBC 10 News off-camera, at the mayor's instruction, they'll ask people to leave, but likely won't issue tickets.

Deputy Chief Charles Davey confirmed with NBC 10 he sent out a directive to staff, based on the mayor’s instructions.

The e-mail read, “Until further notice, the only people allowed to utilized the basketball courts at Evans field are members of a Town sanctioned game or league. Please disperse anyone else who is using the courts. This is 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Please review the Town ordinance regarding Parks and Playgrounds.”

NBC 10 asked Lombardi what his response is to those who feel it is an unfair ban on a place funded by taxpayer dollars.

"My answer for that is very simple. I'm doing this to make sure that those youth and town sanctioned organizations are being protected,” Lombardi said on Wednesday. "Bottom line is, as far as watching the backs' of the taxpayers, that's exactly what I'm doing."

Listen, everyone has a different childhood growing up and I'm sure that the counter-argument to this might appeal to a different section of the population, but keeping local basketball courts open for chippy pick-up games, trash-talking, and the occasional extended jump ball skirmish far outweighs policing the courts, in my opinion.  

I understand that games can get a little bit unruly, and maybe there is a fight every once in a while, but that's part of growing up an athlete in a small town. This news out of Rhode Island is disheartening because that 'other section of the population' often times comes loaded with more political connections and cash to get rid of something that might disrupt their 5:30 pm dinner with the noise. 

This is upsetting for a number of reasons, but the one you should really care about is the group of 10-15 kids per court across city that is being policed. Each court tells it's own story about the neighborhood, is run by the guy who takes pride in winning every king-of-the-hill, and creates memories that far outweigh even some structured league moments. 

This just sucks. Shame on you, Charles Lombardi. Hope you solved that problem.