Cop car wrecks beloved basketball court

Esplanade-B'ball-courtFrank Touby —

The pride and joy of so many St. Lawrence Neighbourhood young people is a glorious basketball court on The Esplanade across from the St. Lawrence Rec Centre that was, in effect, ‘vandalized’ by a thoughtless cop chasing a kid on a bicycle.

These reports come through Councillor Pam McConnell’s office as she and her staff received them:

From Rob Andrusevich, Parks Communications

“The police car that travelled over the basketball court at David Crombie park on July 16  inflicted extensive damage to the special court surface that was in place.

“Today our staff met on site with staff from the TPS and MLSE (the site was a community build project they funded) and a community member, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood.

“It has been decided to remove the court ASAP, as the plastic tiles are badly damaged and seems to be unrepairable. Tomorrow morning with the help of  volunteers from MLSE employee’s and PFR we will begin the removal of both the tiles and the newly painted graffiti on the basketball wall. The court will also be power washed to remove debris. The community will be able to play on the court by the afternoon on Friday July 20th.

In the meantime the TPS is checking to see what insurance coverage they may have to cover costs of a rebuild, and have expressed support towards a rebuild project. MLSE is also going to see what they have in their budget. Once we have clarity on financial support we will discuss options for replacement.

Update from Rob Andrusevich July 18:

The cleanup on site went extremely well this morning with staff from MLSE, the police, PFR and community members contributing. The graffiti was also removed from the mural wall. The work this morning received an extensive amount of media coverage.

The court will be ready in time for play this evening. Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Foundation may contract a company to paint basketball lines on the surface over the next few days.

MLSE, Police and PFR are in discussions to have a new surface placed on the court. A different type of surface will be considered.

This from Gary Meisner, Inspector at 51 Division:

During the evening of Tuesday, July 16th, Officers assigned to the TAVIS (Toronto Anti Violence Intervention Strategy) initiative were on a proactive patrol in 51 Division to assist with several recent reports of the sound of gunshots.  At approximately 11:14 pm, police first observed a person of interest acting suspiciously and in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act in the area of Sherbourne St & The Esplanade.  As TAVIS Officers approached to further investigate the suspect, the individual immediately took flight on a bicycle through the St. Lawrence neighbourhood and into David Crombie Park with TAVIS Officers in pursuit.  Unfortunately, the suspect was able to evade TAVIS at the same time as one of their vehicles became trapped in the basketball court.  The weight of the vehicle and the torque of the tires was presumably too much for the padded tiled surface, causing damage upon both entering and exiting the basketball court.

One of our 51 Divisional Traffic investigators attended the scene and formally recorded the incident.  I assigned a SOCO (Scenes of Crime) Officer to photograph the damages incurred to the basketball court and ensured that the City (Parks & Recreation), as well as MR Troy Ford (Parks Ambassador), Councillor O’Connell’s Office and the St. Lawrence BIA were duly informed.  TAVIS is presently cooperating with the City and is actively engaged in seeing that the matter is resolved and the basketball court is restored.

It should be noted that Sgt. Somers & our 51 CRU were also in the area at the time and after conducting a thorough search, were able to locate and arrest the individual who was found to be in possession of narcotics and charged accordingly. I don’t mind telling you that this same individual had previously been released from Court for charges of robbery, weapons, narcotics & child pornography.