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Hoop Dreams coming true on Bateman Road: Courts transformed into community asset

Something approaching the miraculous has happened on Bateman Road.

But looking a bit closer, the transformation of rundown basketball courts with buckled asphalt, no rims and battered backboards into a first-class recreational venue didn’t take a miracle — just innovation, hard work and dedication to the betterment of the community.

Super-volunteer George Kneeland, an educator and community activist, who set the wheels in motion and worked tirelessly to bring the courts back to a beautiful new life, told the Reporter that there’s more to do.

“We completed phase three of the renovation and now we’re headed into phases four and five,” Mr Kneeland said, adding that this will involve landscaping the courts and constructing a retaining wall near the entrance. The parking lot also needs renovating, and drainage on the Bateman Road side has to be addressed.

But so far, so spectacular. The sealing of the surface of the courts is done and Shelter Island High School’s blue and gray colors are under each basket.

Mr. Kneeland and the Shelter Island Lions Club have raised the funds for the transformation. Speaking of the Lions, Mr. Kneeland said, “They are really the engine behind the scenes. They’ve reshaped their website for this endeavor and many members have helped to process the contributions and write the acknowledgment letters.”

Also instrumental in helping guide the mission for the renovation are School Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., Police Chief Jim Read, School Supervisor of Building and Grounds Mike Dunning, Town Recreation Director Bethany Ortmann and Councilman Jim Colligan.

It’s not just a perfect place for pickup basketball games, but in essence is a Shelter Island park, which hosts people of all ages, serving as a gathering place for the Island’s youth and their families, as well as a place for adults to exercise in a variety of recreational classes provided by the town.

Mr. Kneeland listed other activities available, including rollerblading, touch football, kickball, skateboarding, kids learning to ride bicycles (especially with training wheels), chalk writing/artistry, geometry classes from high school and an area for youths to socialize.

“This recreation area is a centralized location for the youth as a place to go,” he added. “It’s a place to hang out, eat a bag of chips and enjoy a can of soda, or ride their bikes with a backpack and be outside to listen to music in a group of friends and talk.”

At the completion of phase three on July 23, kids on bicycles raced down and dropped their bikes in order to be the first ones to play on the courts. 

More work has to be done, and that means more funds to put into the Island resource that serves the entire community. To donate, go to the Shelter Island Lions Club Foundation web page and click on “Support the Courts” in the banner — shelterislandlions.org/support-the-courts/. Or go to GoFundme: Support the Courts — gofundme.com/f/support-the-courts.http://gofundme.com/f/support-the-courts

And for more information on how you can help keep this community and sports facility in good shape contact Mr. Kneeland at [email protected].