Teen basketball league cleared to return to Pete’s Park | News

BEVERLY — High school students who were expelled from Pete’s Park last weekend will be allowed to resume their league basketball there. and in the wake of the controversy, city officials pledged to take a closer look at city policies regarding the use of public spaces.

Mayor Mike Cahill decided on Thursday to allow students to return to Pete’s Park after meeting three of the teenagers at City Hall. Beverly High School senior Alex O’Neil, one of the basketball league organizers, said he was pleased with the mayor’s decision.

“It was a great reunion,” O’Neil said. “Everyone is on the same page, so we’re okay with that.”

The controversy erupted after Bruce Doig, the city’s director of parks and recreation, drove to Pete’s Park on Saturday morning after receiving complaints from neighbors and told the group of teenagers they had to leave because ‘they didn’t have a permit for what he called an organized. Event. Around 30 students and several supporters showed up at a city council meeting on Monday night to protest the decision.

Speaking at the Beverly Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Thursday night, Doig apologized for calling the teenagers “lazy” when he confronted them at the park.

“It wasn’t aimed at any particular kid,” Doig said. ” He just went out. I also apologize for the outcome of the visit. It didn’t happen like no one wanted it to. »

Cahill, as he did in a Facebook post on Wednesday, also apologized during the commission meeting.

“Unfortunately, the conversation that took place didn’t go the way we wanted,” he said.

Cahill praised the students for standing up for their right to use the public park and said it prompted the city to review its policies regarding park use and when a permit is required. Ward 6 Councilman Matt St. Hilaire told the recreation commission that he had requested that the city council’s public services committee hold a public forum on the topic of park and playground use. games.

Nancy Marino, a member of the Recreation Commission, said it would be helpful if the city could define what constitutes a league and “what is just a group of people playing pickleball, basketball or hockey. street”.

“We need to clearly define this for people in the city,” she said.

Pete’s Park is in a residential area of ​​Centerville, and neighbors have complained about noise, trash, and traffic from people using the park. Doig said the city is trying to steer larger organized events to bigger parks like Balch Playground and the McPherson Youth Center.

The students said they organized the basketball league as a senior project and as a way to get together before heading off to college in the fall. O’Neil said they chose Pete’s Park because the smaller court is better for 3-on-3 basketball and because they wanted to honor Pete Frates, the Beverly resident who raised millions of dollars for the ALS research and for whom the park is named. Frates died in 2019 at the age of 34.

O’Neil said the league, which includes about 50 students, is scheduled to take place every Saturday afternoon at Pete’s Park through June.

Jon Paddol, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation, defended Doig during the commission meeting. Paddol called criticism of Doig in recent days “brutal”. Cahill had also said he was concerned about the “vitriol” that was directed at Doig.

“I would challenge you to find 10, 20 people in this community who (have done more than Doig) if you add up their volunteer hours and the amount of effort they put into youth sports and doing what it takes for Beverly,” Paddol said. . “That’s his only concern – doing the right thing for the people of Beverly.”

Managing Editor Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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