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Basketball games in streets causing concerns

July 25, 2003|by JENNIFER SMITS

jennifers@herald-mail.com

Generations of children have passed the time by shooting hoops with friends, but these days the hoops sometimes are portable and some fear that could pose a safety risk.

Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said the town has received numerous complaints about children playing in the streets, and the Town Council is investigating what to do about it.

"We enjoy seeing children playing," she said.

But the council is worried that this could be a dangerous practice for youngsters, Myers said.

Most of the complaints stem from motorists who are afraid they will hit children who are tossing basketballs at hoops that are along the side of the road, Myers said.

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She said there also have been a few complaints of stray balls hitting parked cars.

"That isn't that serious, unless it's your car," Myers said.

She said the council has been investigating the matter for several months and has talked to the town's attorney, its insurance company and the Maryland Municipal League to see what other towns in Maryland have done about the problem.

She said she wasn't sure when the council would reach a decision on the matter.

Sgt. Dave Long of the Hagerstown Police Department said the problem is not widespread in Hagerstown and that there have been only a few incidents, which usually involve "kids just kind of ignoring the flow of traffic."

Long said he was not aware of any instance in which children playing in the road had caused an accident.

He said parents should pay attention to where they set up the hoops and make sure they are not on busy roads or where they will disrupt traffic. He said he did not think banning them was necessary.

In Funkstown, the Town Council voted about a year ago to allow people to have portable basketball hoops as long as they stayed out of the path of vehicles, Mayor Robert Kline said.

Kline said there have been no complaints about the basketball hoops since then.

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