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Countering gangs with basketball

Officials hope that a league at troubled park will bring more wholesome activity.

March 24, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

In an effort to curb gang activity at Griffith Manor Park, parks officials are recommending that the city establish a basketball club league there.

Often, youth from the northwest area of Glendale tell police officers that there’s nothing for them to do, officials said. To prevent idle hands from indulging in criminal activity, the hope is that the basketball league will give youth an activity.

“We want to prove to them there is something to do,” said Glendale Police Officer Josh Luna after the Parks, Recreation & Community Services Commission approved the program Monday afternoon.

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And even if no one signs up, having a basketball league at the park ensures that city officials will be present, deterring gang activity there, said Community Services Supervisor Gabrielle Goglia.

“This way, they can’t claim that the park is theirs and bully people,” Luna said.

The league would include five-on-five teams playing full-court games one night a week for $220 for 10 games, with two games into the playoffs if teams make it. It would also include three-on-three games at half-court one night per week for $140. Games would begin as early as June 4.

League teams at other facilities, including Clark Magnet High School and Pacific Community Center, pay $350 for the season. The parks department reduced fees for this program since it is on a concrete, outdoor court, while the rest are in gymnasiums. The discount may also encourage more in the community to play, Goglia said.

“It’s a good price,” said Parks Commissioner Vartan Gharpetian, referring to the discount.

The city expects it can make an $11,000 profit off the program if it is successful.

“We hope we will have a great turnout, but we don’t know,” Goglia said, adding that parks staff will evaluate the program after a year.

The program must still be approved by the City Council.

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