Jackson County

How ugly is it? Ocean Springs issues a citation for basketball goal.

The city issued a ticket for a basketball goal in the upscale neighborhood of Bienville Place, and mom and dad are fighting back.

The complaint that came in called it aesthetically displeasing — ugly — and said that having kids in the street is not safe.

The basketball goal has existed nine months, however, cemented in the little strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk. And there have been no close calls with traffic, neighbors say.

Evan Boudreaux, 12, got it for Christmas and his father, Dale Boudreaux, put it up. Evan absolutely and overwhelming loves basketball, his parents say.

Dale Boudreaux, his wife Daralyn and Evan went to City Hall to plead their case.

Their house is on a dead end street that’s only half a block long. At least one other person living in the cul de sac told aldermen they should have it, because “it gives the kids something to do.”

More than 75 people in the neighborhood signed a petition saying they disagree with the assessment it’s ugly or that it’s unsafe.

“Who wants to deny a 12-year-old his basketball goal?” Dale Boudreaux asked.

Technically, it’s in the city right of way, but is it blocking public access? Not any more than the other basketball goals around town.

Boudreaux told aldermen there are 70 basketball goals in Ocean Springs, most of them portable, some of them sitting on public sidewalks, facing a street that serves as the “court.”

“We have pictures of all of them,” Daralyn Boudreaux said. “If you make us take ours down, remove them all.”

Who complained?

A member of the board of the Beinville Place homeowner’s association is who filed the complaint.

They complained to city code enforcement, because the basketball goal doesn’t violate the subdivision’s covenants, city officials said.

The city wrote a citation.

“You said it’s a violation of the ordinance. I’m here pleading my case,” Dale Boudreaux told aldermen. He put the goal by the street, because their driveway slopes.

He said:

▪  It’s between the street and the sidewalk. It doesn’t block either.

▪  We’re not on a thoroughfare. We’re in a cul de sac where speed limits are slow. The ordinance doesn’t apply.

▪  People are already slowing down for the stop sign.

▪  If the concern is children playing in the street, what about skate boarding and soccer?

▪  It doesn’t block delivery trucks, garbage trucks or mail carriers.

People have said how good it is to see children playing in the cul de sac, Dale Boudreaux said.

Why don’t we have a park?

While the Boudreauxs were driving around Ocean Springs, looking for basketball goals, they realized there are areas of the city — especially south of U.S. 90 in east Ocean Springs, including Bienville Place — that are sorely lacking neighborhood parks for children to play in, parks that could have basketball goals.

And while the aldermen tried to solve that accusation by asking if basketball goals could be put in Clay Boyd Park on Morris Noble Road, the father said Clay Boyd Park is two to three miles from Bienville Place and too far for a 12-year-old to ride his bike.

It was the city attorney who stepped in to tell the Boudreauxs that the aldermen can’t help them with the citation.

It’s sort of like a speeding ticket, Kevin Melchi told them. Alderman can’t be asked to fix a ticket. Court is the place it will have to be determined whether the goal is an obstruction or not.

Melchi offered one possibility — a license to encroach.

It’s a document, a tool, the city can issue, if a city department agrees with the safety assessment.

Meanwhile the city has set the court date for Oct. 18.