Lafayette removes hoops at Columbian Park amid crime concerns


It's not unusual wherever you go in Indiana to see someone putting up a basketball hoop. You hardly ever see one getting taken down, but that is exactly what the city of Lafayette had to do in Columbian Park.

Everybody in Indiana feels at home on a basketball court. It's what we are known for. It's our heritage. Every child grows up dreaming big dreams on the court. Most thought it could be a solution to a problem, but for some reason in Lafayette at Columbian Park, a court has become a problem.

Too many fights and too many problems resulted in two fewer basketball goals.

"We usually stick to the park just for that reason, because we don't know who is over there; what is going on over there," said Jessica Hageman, Lafayette resident.

There is so much to enjoy, including the playground, the train or a field trip with your friends. It is the crown jewel in the center of the city.

"The gang won by them taking the basketball court away. They won," said Tyrone Campbell, who celebrated his 52nd birthday by fishing in the park. "Now you ran them away. Just because you ran them away from there just means they went somewhere else. We want them to be gone. Gone. Not just run them out of Columbian. Out of Lafayette. Everywhere."

"We have a community standard. We should not let things in the park get out of control and that cussing, foul language, being rude to other patrons in the park. Disrupting the neighborhood is not behavior we find acceptable and we just are not going to allow it to continue," said Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski (D).

Bill Smothers of Delphi doesn't believe this is really a solution.

"If they take the courts away the gangs just go somewhere else. They will be there until someone puts a stop to it," he said.

The mayor says the city is in the midst of putting new hoops in other parks in the city, but as for Columbian he says this is a trial period and he hopes to be able to put them back in next spring. All that depends on how things progress in the park.