Improvements underway for Milford’s basketball courts

Daniel Kissinger of Grasso Fence rolls up old fencing he removed at the Mispillion Riverwalk basketball court in Milford. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

MILFORD — Those looking to shoot hoops in Milford’s public parks will soon be able to do so on new backboards with fresh nets.

The city is in the process of revamping its two basketball courts, two in Banneker Park off Northwest Fourth Street and one in Memorial Park on the south side of the Mispillion River.

“Currently, we are working on the river court, which will include making repairs to the court, new fencing (and) new backboards and hoops,” said Brad Dennehy, the director of Milford’s Parks & Recreation Department.

In the spring, he said the court will be “overlaid with a specialized rubber surface with new striping.” That addition needs to wait until the temperature outside will consistently be 70 degrees or higher.

The city has plans to redo the Banneker Park courts, too, but not until the river court is completed.

“We are not shutting down the court at any time, and any inconveniences should be minor,” Mr. Dennehy said. “The public will still have access to the Banneker court located off of Northwest Fourth Street, and we will not begin any improvements at that park until the river court is complete.”

Mayor Archie Campbell said the changes happening at the river court include both needed maintenance and upgrades to the surrounding area.

“At some of the courts, they have grass growing through the cracks, so we have to fix all of that,” he said. “We needed to repair that because we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

The city has also added a portable bathroom and hand sanitizer dispensers to the area around the court at the behest of adults who use the facility.

“The older guys like playing basketball over there, and they wanted to maintain the courts, so they asked for hand sanitizer and the port-a-potty,” Mayor Campbell said. “We had problems with the port-a-potties last year, but this year everything seems to be fine.”

He said the older men at the court have taken on a mentor-like role.
“They actually keep the younger guys in line,” Mayor Campbell said. “I think that’s what helped a lot.”

Alton Gibbs enjoys practicing at the Mispillion Riverwalk basketball court. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

He added that there’s not a lot for young people to do in Milford.
“They’ll play basketball. That’s one thing that’s still standing,” he said.

“We had the skating rink, which went away, and we don’t have a lot of other things for the kids,” Mayor Campbell said. “There’s the park over by the Boys & Girls Club, but quite a few people don’t have transportation to get over there.”

Vice Mayor Jason James is another big proponent of the courts and the role they serve in the community.

“The basketball court that’s there is used by a lot of people,” Mr. James said. “It’s used by a multiethnic, multicultural group of people. It’s a gathering place. It’s a coming together of the city.”

Mr. Dennehy also believes the courts are an important public facility, especially in the COVID-19 era.

“Any type of recreation is important to a community, and our basketball courts get a lot of use,” he said. “For many months during the early stages of COVID-19, due to the governor’s guidelines, the courts had to be closed.”

Mr. Dennehy said that when the city’s courts finally reopened, they were mobbed and have continued to be an important place for recreation as other events, activities and leagues have been put on hold.

“Any recreation is a form of socialization, and the basketball courts prove that,” he said. “Whether it is youth playing with other youth, parents shooting some hoops with their children or adults playing pickup games after work or at lunch, now more than ever, while the pandemic continues, the public needs access to well-maintained recreational facilities.”

Reach staff writer Noah Zucker at nzucker@newszap.com