AMSTERDAM, N.Y. – Playing basketball on Amsterdam city streets was officially banned Monday night by a vote by the Amsterdam City Council.
The council passed an ordinance on July 1 banning basketball on city streets. Mayor Ann Thane vetoed the ordinance, but the council voted four-to-one Wednesday to override her veto.
Prior to the vote, Thane expressed extreme disappointment in the council’s actions.
“This is an expression of intolerance of other people,” she said. “I think it brings shame to our community.”
Those in favor of the ban cite safety as the key issue. They said groups that play basketball in the streets put themselves in harm’s way and sometimes block traffic.
“The way people are today that speed up and down the street, it’s dangerous there,” councilmember Ed Russo said.
Thane, however, believes the council was targeting basketball and not safety because there are already city laws in effect that address traffic.
“It’s intolerance toward people playing,” she said. “It’s kind of a joke. I mean, what, you’re gonna go around and fine kids for doing something positive?”
Young children like Brandon Ribot attended the meeting in hopes of showing council members they want to keep playing basketball within their own neighborhoods.
“They’re taking what I call my best friend,” he said. “It’s my basketball hoop. It’s like my friend.”
The council needed four votes to pass the ordinance. Valerie Beekman was the only council member to vote no.
Matt Moller runs a recreational basketball league. He said basketball is one of the most popular sports in the city, and he’s concerned a lot of his kids don’t have access to decent parks.
“You’re gonna prevent a kid from becoming a great basketball player whether college or high school because they can no longer practice,” he said.
The ordinance is already in effect. Anyone caught playing basketball on a city street will be fined $250.