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In Palmer, basketball courts turn meeting into a hot topic

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 07 2014 09:53:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 08 2014 01:20:37 PM CDT
Palmer Twp. Supervisors
PALMER TWP., Pa. -

About a dozen township residents went on the offensive Monday night, telling Palmer Twp., Northampton Co., officials they fear nothing but trouble will come from two proposed outdoor basketball courts at the Charles Chrin Community Center on Green Pond Road.

Katheryn Gallagher shared her experiences of growing up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and the violence she saw around basketball courts.

“People died over the next game,” Gallagher said. She warned the supervisors the outdoor courts are “going to draw different demographics.”

“It does create issues,” she said. “I’ve seen it.”

Another neighbor, Joan Young, said the idea of having basketball courts near her house “makes me a little skittish.”

Others warned more police officers will be needed because of the trouble that would be spawned there, everything from neighborhood burglaries, smoking pot, drinking, and stealing items from backyards.

Some supervisors seemed incredulous.

“All this from basketball?’ asked supervisor Ann-Marie Panella.

Chairman Dave Colver, commenting on the “Philadelphia horror stories” and fears of “unsavory characters” arriving in the neighborhood, said he has seen no evidence linking basketball courts and criminal behavior.

“We’ve never had that in Palmer Township in the 10 courts we (already) have,” Colver said.

Colver later proposed a change that seemed acceptable to the neighbors.

Instead of building two basketball courts, Colver said the township will try to revise the plans for the quarter million dollar grant the township is receiving so the courts can be converted to a multi-purpose use -- not just for basketball but for field hockey, lacrosse.

“Let’s talk to the county,” Colver said. “It solves everything.”

In a related move, the supervisors awarded the snack bar concession to Tom Lisinicchia at the Palmer Pool. Lisinicchia, who runs the snack bar at Easton High School, agreed to pay the township $3,800 for the right.