Grant money would create Norwalk's first full-size outdoor basketball court

Cary Ashby • Updated May 24, 2019 at 9:55 AM

The Norwalk parks and recreation department is pursuing a state grant to create the first full-size basketball court in the city.

Council members passed a resolution Tuesday to apply for the reimbursable Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) NatureWorks grant.

The McGuan Park basketball court project is expected to cost about $32,000 with $24,093 coming from the grant. Norwalk parks and rec superintendent Joe Lindenberger and safety-service director Ellen Heinz said there is a 25-percent match from the city, which consists mainly of labor costs to install the hoops, cement and surface coloring. The funds for Norwalk’s portion of the grant would go in the 2020 budget.

“They are breakaway rims. They can’t damage them,” Lindenberger said.

McGuan Park is located at 137 N. Hester St. If the grant is approved, the court would go on the dismantled diamond No. 3, on the corner of Hester and Washington streets.

“We haven’t used three (baseball) fields for years now,” said Lindenberger, who hopes the new court being installed will mean McGuan Park gets used more.

The project would create a full basketball court with two cross courts, for a total of six baskets.

“There is not one full-court basketball court in town — not one. There is a need,” Lindenberger said.

Recently the superintendent has surveyed about half of the neighbors near the park. Lindenberger, who noted there are a lot of children in the area, said residents have been unanimous in their support of a new basketball court.

“We do value the neighborhood input,” he added.

Council members asked about the security and upkeep of the facility during their May 14 work session. Heinz, who discussed those issues with the park board and Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney, said they determined McGuan Park would be an easy area to patrol and monitor. Lindenberger said Wednesday it’s a high-traffic area, so he hopes the park will get more usage with the new court, especially since it is one of the most underutilized parks of the nearly 15 in Norwalk.

One of the options being explored for the project is lighting. Heinz has told council that lights being on timers are being considered. If that happens, Lindenberger said the city would respect the neighbors.

Councilman Steve Schumm, during the May 14 work session, said he is happy to see the area near McGuan Park being revived.

Lindenberger said he has had a lot of success in securing ODNR NatureWork grants in the past.

“I apply every year,” he added. “I hate to see ODNR dollars go unapplied for.”