OPINION COLUMNS

Street hoops and the HOA

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A few months back, the wifey and I bought a home in a community with a homeowners association (HOA).

I’ve heard and read horror stories about the overbearing property owners groups that constantly monitored weeds in yards, and placed liens on properties for little violations to the neighborhood covenants such as flying flags or planting the wrong kind of tree.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

Before signing off on the property, I carefully read the homeowners association agreement to make sure there wasn’t anything too far into left field. And after surveying the neighborhood, nothing looked out of the norm.

Since moving in, I have spent a lot of time outdoors, running up and down the streets and getting a yard that was let go by the previous owners into shape. I must admit with the help of a little fertilizer and a lot of tender, loving care, the lawn has come a long way in a short period of time – but I’m still not expecting Southern Living to show up for a photo shoot.

While getting out in the neighborhood, I’ve noticed a few residents aren’t quite following all the regulations when it comes to lawns and the parking of commercial vehicles. But compared to my old ‘hood, where I saw weeds taller than me in a yard when I drove by last weekend, it’s nothing to get feathers ruffled about.

Then last week, the homeowners association held its first meeting since we moved into the neighborhood.

I sat in fear for a few minutes as they took nominations for the board, praying my wife wouldn’t volunteer me. Fortunately, I dodged that bullet as a few brave souls stepped forward.

After installing new board members and going over the financials of the association, the truly entertaining part of the meeting started as current compliance issues were discussed.

A few parking issues came up, but the bulk of the discussion centered on basketball goals. According to our guidelines, the goals are not supposed to be mounted or left out in the front yard or driveway.

Throughout the neighborhood, this requirement is being ignored, with hoops set up on the street in several locations. In one spot, the kids even got out chalk to draw the 3-point arc and lane in the street for their hoop. Walking past, I immediately became jealous that I wasn’t that creative when I was a kid, while shooting hoops and pretending to be Rolando Blackman or Sam Perkins.

As a person who has somehow managed to make a living writing about sports, I’m the first to say I don’t have a problem with the goals. I’m glad to see kids playing outside instead of holing up inside with video games.

During the discussion in the meeting, instead of people saying the goals were an eyesore or complaining about noise, fellow residents immediately went to the crutch of safety. Some questioned possible litigation against the HOA if a child was struck while playing hoops in the street.

I hope that never happens – and fortunately in my childhood, with all the football, basketball and wiffle ball games played in street, no one ever got hit by what we called “big linebackers” (vehicles).

Thanks to “Wayne’s World,” we just yelled “game off and game on” when cars ventured into our playing field.

Some folks mentioned ponying up the money to build a court for the kids at the neighborhood park, which I support. But with the required professional fees for such a project, it would be costly.

Most of the time, I would say rules are rules and my fellow homeowners should just take down the goals or put them out back. But in this instance, we should just be careful on the streets and let the games continue.

It’s better to let them play now and develop a love for the outdoors than for them to stay inside and get into a sedentary lifestyle that could do far more harm in the future.

Richard Greene is sports editor of the Messenger.

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