ALTON, Ill. (KMOX) – The mayor of Alton is standing firm on his decision to remove basketball rims from two courts at James Killion Park after receiving several litter complaints.
Mayor Brant Walker tells KMOX after getting complaints from park neighbors about excess trash, he took the rims down.
“This administration has put a lot of effort into what was an inner-city park that had been let go for, literally probably decades,” he says. Updates included the installation of a pavilion, ADA entrance ramps, roof repairs, resurfacing and new paint for the basketball courts, and updated LED lighting.
“We have done a ton of work in that park, and therefore, this summer has really been tremendous with activity in the park, which is exactly what we wanted — to rejuvenate a inner-city park,” Walker says.
But with an increase in the park’s popularity, the amount of liter has become an issue.
The litter was not getting into the trash cans, of which there are at least a dozen, he says, and neighbors called to complain of litter in their yards. After going to the park to see for himself, Walker said the amount of litter was overwhelming.
“It looked like it snowed. And the trash cans were not full. And the trash cans were not knocked over,” he says. “It was just people that would get up from a bench or picnic table, and just walk away from the garbage there.”
The city has five full-time parks employees to take care of more than 1,700 acres of park, and Alton’s park director told the mayor that workers were spending more than two hours picking up trash at the park before they could cut the grass.
“We don’t have the resources or the manpower to pick up after you and put your soda cup in the trash can,” Walker says.
The mayor says he made the decision to take the basketball rims down, because around the courts is where it seemed a lot of litter was being generated.
“It was an attention-getter, it was temporary, and we’re going to address a significant issue in one of our neighborhoods and deal with it, and move forward,” Walker says of taking down the hoops.
The park remains open and is being used — the basketball courts are the only part not useable.
The mayor has since received complaints that it’s the city’s responsibility to pick up the park’s litter.
Walker argues it is the city’s responsibility to take care of maintenance such as resurfacing and lighting, but not to pick up after park patrons — “That’s not maintenance.”
A meeting is planned for Wednesday afternoon with several community groups on how to address the trash problem.