WILKES-BARRE —The city has not scored any points with Thomas Lynn over the condition of the public tennis courts near his home in Miners Mills.
The five paved courts at the Bog Recreation Area haven’t been used in years for the sport. The nets have disappeared and weeds have been growing from the cracks that fracture the playing surface. The other public courts at the Barney Farms Park, close to where Mayor Tom Leighton lives, are in much better shape.
Lynn, a former U.S. Marine, moved to a house on Dewey Lane, a short walk to the Bog park, approximately 20 years ago to raise a family of two sons and a daughter. He’s committed to his neighborhood and has concerns about the safety of many of his elderly neighbors and his daughter who bought a house across the lane from him.
“The park was active at the time. Now it’s the bane of my existence,” Lynn said Wednesday.
The tennis courts stand across the field from the small playground maintained by the city. Between them is the wide expanse of playing fields that Lynn said has been taken over by people riding all-terrain vehicles who hold drinking parties out in the open.
While walking his dog last August he confronted a rider who lifted up his shirt to show a handgun tucked into his waistband.
“It’s sad what it turned into,” Lynn said from inside the fenced-in courts.
He pointed to pieces of buildings blocks that littered the courts. They’re what’s left of the ramps skateboarders had built and cemented to the asphalt courts before city workers came in and removed them.
“My main thing is, if you’re not going to change it, find a way to control it,” he said.
The city’s website still lists the courts as one of the park’s amenities that also include the playground, two baseball fields, a volleyball court and handball court.
City spokeswoman Liza Prokop said that the city eliminated tennis courts in the past due to lack of use and maintenance costs.
“We are always addressing the conditions and use of our recreational parks and concentrate on those that are used more heavily,” Prokop said.
Police patrol parks on an as-needed basis, she added.
Lynn recalled that the Coughlin High School tennis team played on the courts, and on weekends a club held matches. He said he used to roll a ball on the courts’ smooth and level surface for his dog to chase.
He stood his ground last summer when confronted by the gun-carrying ATV rider and called police to report it. An officer later came to take a statement from Lynn. But Lynn wasn’t satisfied with the investigation, saying he located the rider’s address, provided it to police and still nothing was done.
He addressed City Council at its Oct. 24, 2013, meeting asking for more police presence at the park. The city located a Hawkeye Security Solutions camera, part of the citywide surveillance network, near the playground.
Within the past week, Lynn said, he has noticed police patrolling in the area. But the overall security of the park has to be addressed, he added.
Police patrol parks on an as-needed basis, Prokop said.