An effort by some Santa Ana residents to save a set of torn-down handball courts may get new life Tuesday.
City Council members, at the request of Councilman Johnathan Hernandez, will discuss the possibility of rebuilding the courts at Chepa’s Park in the historic Logan neighborhood in the north/central part of the city.
City officials say they took the courts down at the request of nearby homeowners concerned that the play area was driving undesirable activity and homeless presence.
Those who supported the courts’ existence at the park, on the other hand, have refuted those claims.
The battle over the courts plays into a years-long debate over whether city officials have invested enough into recreational spaces and outlets for the city’s youth.
Handball, which some people view negatively over the sport’s association as a jail or prison sport, is especially popular among Latinos.
One chief proponent for the court’s removal came from the very family for which the surrounding park is named. Joe Andrade claimed that in recent years the courts have become a place for everything but handball.
Andrade, who’s the son of the late community leader Josephine Andrade — once known as “Chepa” and “La Reina de Logan” — voiced concern in a previous story that the courts were attracting undesirable activity in a neighborhood that he said has historically fought to keep it away.
Those supporting the courts, like resident Isaac Manzo, previously said the area offered an outlet for youth in a city where there aren’t as many of them at parks and recreational settings — and that the courts kept kids on the right path.
Manzo had led a number of efforts to engage youth in the sport, starting handball leagues and facilitating games and tournaments.
The courts were taken down in September last year. But their removal was met with an online community petition to bring them back, organized by Manzo.
And a handball court in the city’s west-end Santa Anita neighborhood could face the same fate.
The court there is set to be removed by city officials who plan on renovating the park to create more recreational spaces and a soccer field. Those are plans that officials say came after gathering much feedback from the surrounding neighborhood in that area.
The intention prompted some members of the public to call into a City Council meeting in early February, opposing the court’s pending removal.