Restored Water Tower basketball courts debut

by Melissa D’Agostino and Melvin Brown
Posted 6/18/24

The revitalization of these courts marks a significant milestone, not just for the avid players, but for everyone who cherishes this communal space.

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Restored Water Tower basketball courts debut

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As the warmth of summer arrives in earnest, there’s no better place to be than outside. The bright possibilities stretch ahead and among the many summer destinations are the newly-renovated Water Tower Recreation Center basketball courts.

These public basketball courts, recently renovated courtesy of the City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department, the Water Tower Advisory Council, the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club (CHYSC), City Councilmember Cindy Bass, State Rep. Tarik Khan and so many others, including CHYSC Fundraising Chair Amy Smith and co-chair Dan Baselice, will make players of all ages want to “square up” in front of the five nets at Hartwell Lane. 

The revitalization of these courts marks a significant milestone, not just for the avid basketball players, but for everyone who cherishes this communal space. As the dust settles and the newly-renovated outdoor basketball courts at Water Tower Rec gleam under the sun, a palpable sense of excitement and pride fills the Chestnut Hill community. 

The story of these renovations is one of community spirit, perseverance, and a shared vision for a better tomorrow. With new backboards installed last season and the fresh surfacing completed this summer, the transformation of the courts is nothing short of spectacular. This project represents more than just physical improvements; it symbolizes the heart and soul of a community coming together to create something special.

If you have not been to the Water Tower courts in a while, their wooden backboards, uprooted cement, rusted posts, worn off court lines and overgrown perimeters have been transformed. They are now resplendent with double rimmed tempered glass backboards, double layer compressed asphalt surfacing, reset rust-free posts, fresh vibrantly painted court delinations, and the new features are surrounded with tended green space. Within a matter of days, menacing “do not cross” yellow tape was removed and this multi-phase project culminated in an exciting reveal.

Among the list to kick-off celebrating the courts was the CHYSC 3V3 program, which began this season on a beautiful sunny evening on June 12, marking the third year of Wednesday night pick-up games for boys and girls grades five through eight who fill the front, back, and indoor courts with brightly colored jerseys while their families and friends cheer.

With clipboard in hand and eyes on the teams, CHYSC Vice President, Coach Amy Smith observed “Right now is a huge success, everyone is happy.” 

Smith’s husband, Barry, a CHYSC coach, added “The courts are so colorful, I love the bold blue at half court, combined with the red.”

“The Water Tower is a staple in the Chestnut Hill community.  It helps to bring families together, provides a safe environment and lots of fun activities and sports from basketball, baseball, soccer, and more,” said Cadiann Cole, who serves as CHYSC travel commissioner, Team First Elite Basketball co-founder and coach, and Norwood-Fontbonne Academy coach. Cole sees these courts as playing a pivotal role in the community. 

Dan Baselice, a CHYSC parent, who worked side by side with Amy Smith in coordinating fundraising efforts to make the Water Tower renovations a success, agrees.  Baseline was quick to offer credit to community leaders and officials. “It was great to work with community leaders, Tarik Khan and Cindy Bass to bring this improved court to the community of Chestnut Hill,” he said. “A big part of me getting involved is to fight one of our biggest obstacles of parenting post-pandemic, and that is getting the kids off the screens and participating in unorganized play. I hope this updated court will bring kids together to build lasting relationships at a neighborhood basketball court, like I had when I was their age.“

The kids themselves were huge fans of the newly renovated courts.

“We played against older players tonight in our pick-up game and we had so much fun on these courts,” Owen Gary, a rising 7th-grader, remarked.

Another rising 7th grader, Colin Bender, said “They really improved the three-point line on the court!” 

Meanwhile, a number of players chimed in, saying things like “They look really good!” “So much fun!” and “Love them!”

Not that the courts couldn’t use a few more minor upgrades. 

“The balls are bouncing real good and the player’s balls are going in!” youth referee Severn Jackson observed. “Now, we just need some pads on those posts and these courts are all good!”

According to Melvin Brown, travel CHYSC commissioner and coach, “These renovations are a testament to what we can achieve when we work together. The upgraded courts will provide a fantastic environment for our young athletes to develop their skills, learn teamwork, and most importantly, have fun."

The recreation center is at 209 E. Hartwell Lane.

Chestnut Hill, Water Tower, basketball