Rim Shots

A basketball hoop strikes terror into the hearts of some Bellaire residents

Doherty suggested blaring classical music, and everyone chuckled at this. No one laughed, though, when Ginny Skebe said maybe they should remove the park benches. Then Susan Burke got up to say it's so bad in Bellaire that last year, for the first time, she felt it necessary to lock her doors when she leaves the house. Something has to be done, she said, ''and I think you should take down the goal, and take out the benches and barbecue pits and don't fix the phone." She didn't mention filling in the pool, but she did say her ''for sale" sign wound up in there, ''and I felt very violated and very frightened. I quit going out at night years ago unless I'm in Bellaire, but I don't feel safe now, and I don't like that feeling, I really don't."

The game of basketball seemed far removed from all of this, but to the neighbors, it was front and center. After the meeting, they huddled together outside, congratulating themselves on their speeches, and when a board member emerged, they asked him what he thought. Despite a survey that showed Bellaire residents want the rim put back up by a margin of 3-1, despite a summary of crime in the park that showed only a spattering of minor offenses and more of those when the goal was down -- despite everything, board member Bill Stone assured the group the goal at Evergreen Park probably would not rise again.

The board makes its recommendation to city council next month. The residents are hoping for peace.

''I like teenagers," she said. ''I wish the city would do something for them, but I don't think basketball is the answer.

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