CANTON — Gavin Matthews, 15, and his younger brother, Owen, 10, both love playing basketball.
But they weren’t happy with the rundown basketball court at Taylor Park across from their home on Miner Street Road.
The backboard was cracked and sometimes their ball got stuck in the ripped metal net.
“We had to undo the chains to get the basketball out,” Gavin said.
So, the boys voiced their complaints to a neighbor, Deputy Town Supervisor Robert Washo, who advised them to speak out at a Town Board meeting. Going a step further, the boys started a petition drive asking the town to replace the old equipment.
They easily received numerous signatures from members of Canton’s school basketball teams, coaches and others.
After submitting the petition to the Town Board, former Canton recreation director Caitlin Boreyko applied to the Canton Community Fund for money to cover the cost. She was successful.
Mr. Washo said he believes the new equipment cost about $1,500. It was installed this spring by Larry Olmstead from the village’s Department of Public Works and James Putman, Canton’s new recreation director. New blacktop was installed for the court.
“I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to buy a couple of basketballs so the lifeguards can keep basketballs here to rent out,” Mr. Washo said.
Owen plays on the travel Canton Hoopsters team, while Gavin plays recreationally with his brother and his friends.
“This helps me practice for next year when I’ll go back to the travel basketball team,” Owen said Saturday. “I have a field trip here Wednesday and I’m probably just going to play basketball with my friends.”
The boys’ parents, Jenelle Matthews and Chris Blauvelt, said they believe the brothers have learned how to advocate for themselves.
“They learned how to reach out to other people and what steps to take,” Ms. Matthews said. “Now they can ride their bikes down here, meet their friends, play basketball and jump in the river to cool off. It’s sort of the meeting spot for both age groups.”
Mr. Blauvelt said the basketball court provides an outdoor opportunity for the entire community.
“It’s better for the kids than sitting in front of a TV or an XBox,” he said.
Taylor Park, along the Grasse River, also offers a free public beach, kayak rentals, a playground, a picnic shelter and grills, a sand volleyball court, frisbee golf and a ball field.
During June, July and August the park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beach hours are weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
THE GIST OF IT
n WHAT: New basketball equipment installed at Taylor Park, Canton
n HOW: Two brothers, Gavin and Owen Matthews, started a petition drive and presented it to the Canton Town Board
n FUNDING: Equipment was funded by the Canton Community Fund