UPDATE:

I had a conversation with the City Administrator of Sartell this morning. Her name is Anna Gruber and she would like to clarify a few things about this opinion piece. She felt that the headline was misleading and needed clarification.

Gruber says residents started to have issues with rowdy, loud, swearing basketball players back in April. She says the Sartell Police Department had over a dozen complaints about the ball players being loud and using obscene language as well as reports of public urination and a fire that was accidentally started in that area.

Gruber says the basketball courts are located too close to residents' property and the city realized in hindsight they could have put the courts in a better spot.

Most of the basketball players are college players who had nowhere to practice because gyms were closed due to COVID-19. Gruber estimates there are about 30 college males who organized an 'informal league' at the park.

The city administrator went out to the site to meet with the players herself. She says they admitted that things get too rowdy and would gladly go somewhere else where noise wouldn't be an issue.

The city thought it would be a better idea to downsize the full basketball court in The Wilds and make it a half court. Then, they'd add a full size court in Watab Park where it wasn't so residential. That way, people could be louder if they wanted to be.

Gruber says once the Sartell Community Center reopened, the neighborhood hasn't had any complaints and this has been a non-issue.

She wants the public to know that the issue is not about race, but rather loud, rowdy basketball players in the residential area. Creating a full size basketball court into Watab Park was a suggestion that was made after talking to the basketball players directly. They all felt it would provide basketball players with better opportunities where they could be loud and feel welcome.

Anna Gruber says she would love to have an open dialogue and speak with the public if they have any questions or concerns. Her direct number is 320-258-7306.

ORIGINAL OPINION PIECE:

I'm from Sartell and was reading a recent article published in the Sartell News Leaders by Dennis Dalman titled "Race Question Surfaces At Council Meeting".

According to the article, some residents from The Wilds neighborhood complained that young black youth from St. Cloud were using a basketball court in their development. Apparently the teens were listening to loud music and using offensive language.

Some people suggested full removal of the basketball court because of these recent "events".

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Wait, SERIOUSLY? Let me get this straight...instead of just going up to these kids and saying, 'Hey, there are small kids in the area, can you please watch your language and would you mind turning down the music a little bit", you want to REMOVE the basketball court altogether?!

Listen, in my own neighborhood located not far from The Wilds, older kids and teenagers have broken the park's froggy spring rider, tangled up the swings around the pole and have vandalized the slide by engraving pictures of the male anatomy. Even after all of this, no one has suggested moving the park out of the area. The slide didn't even get replaced.

I can't believe this is even something the council is considering. It's a public park. Everyone has the right to be there.

According to the article, council member Mike Chisum was "vigorously opposed" to taking out the courts, "the decision to move the court was made June 22, only about four hours before the June 22 council meeting."

After Chisum made his case against it, the council decided to table to decision until they get more information.

I hope there's something I'm really missing here...because, if this is the only reason, this is shameful. We can do better than this.

You can check out the original article written by Dennis Dalman published in the Sartell News Leaders here.