UPDATED: No decision yet on whether to paint the Walker Park basketball courts

Walker Park (Flyer photo)
UPDATE 5/2/23: This proposal was approved at the May 2, 2023 City Council meeting.

The City Council last week made no decision on whether to approve a proposal that would revitalize the basketball courts at Walker Park.

Council members voted 5-4 to table the resolution for two weeks.

The project would include a new mural painted across the courts through a donation from the AND1 street basketball brand. It would also include a back-to-school shoe and backpack giveaway during an unveiling celebration event sometime this fall.

The footwear and apparel company, which first became known for its video mixtapes of basketball games at urban courts in the early 1990s, has recently been investing in refurbishing public courts across the country as part of its “Paint the Park” initiative.

The projects include a community celebration and have featured performances by athletes as well as giveaways and collaborations with local artists.

Officials from the brand, which is sold in Walmart stores, would like to team up with a local artist to design and paint a mural on the Walker Park courts.

“It seems like an exciting opportunity,” said Alison Jumper, the city’s director of parks, natural resources and cultural affairs. Jumper told the council she estimated the value of the project to be about $200,000.

Jumper said examples of similar projects can be seen at Cordelia Park in Charlotte, N.C. and at DeFremery Park in Oakland, Calif.

A mural is shown on a basketball court at Cordelia Park in Charlotte, N.C. as part of the AND1 “Paint the Parks” initiative. The company has proposed a similar project at Walker Park in Fayetteville. (Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation)

The design of the court would be finalized once the artists are chosen and would be reflective of the Fayetteville community, said Jumper. An AND1 logo could be included somewhere in the mural, along with a possible Walmart logo, she said.

Councilmember Sonia Harvey said she thinks the idea is inappropriate and urged the council to deny the proposal.

“I have great hesitation about an advertisement in the park because we haven’t seen that kind of commercialization before,” Harvey said.

Jumper said the city does have a donor recognition policy to allow acknowledgment for businesses that contribute to parks infrastructure.

Bryce Davis Park in west Fayetteville includes the 3-acre IAMS Dog Park, which was given its name after a donation from the pet food brand. Also, a playground at Kessler Mountain Regional Park includes permanent donor recognition from the Rotary Club of Fayetteville

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said considering both the dog park and the playground, he’s supportive of the resolution, especially because the proposed event will include backpacks and shoes for local children.

Councilmember Scott Berna agreed and said the new mural will be a draw to the neighborhood and an asset to the community. He said with a $200,000 donation, it should be expected that the businesses would like at least some kind of recognition.

Councilmember Mike Wiederkehr agreed with Berna, and said it’s a low-risk proposition considering the paint on the court will likely only last a few years and the city wouldn’t be obligated to repaint it. He said the parks department will get a refurbished court in exchange for some temporary donor recognition and that the council shouldn’t overthink the decision.

“We’re not naming the Walton Arts Center here,” said Wiederkehr.

Harvey suggested the council table the decision and forward the proposal to the city’s Arts Council for further input.

During the vote to table, the council voted 5-4 with Harvey, D’Andre Jones, Sarah Moore and Teresa Turk voting in favor. Berna, Wiederkehr, Sarah Bunch and Holly Hertzberg voted against. Mayor Jordan elected to cast a tie-breaking vote and sided with those wanting to hold the idea for two weeks. The discussion will continue May 2.