Bye-Bye Basketball: Town Removes Developer’s Hoops

Plenty of space to dribble, but nowhere to shoot: The Town of Cape Charles removed the hoops and backboards Thursday from what had been the town's only basketball  court. (Wave photo)

Plenty of space to dribble, but nowhere to shoot: The Town of Cape Charles removed the hoops and backboards Thursday from what had been the Town’s only outdoor basketball court. The school building on the right also contains a basketball court, but the Town closed it in 2006. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

December 28, 2012

When the Cape Charles town maintenance staff returned to work Thursday following a 3-day Christmas holiday, their first job was to dismantle the basketball court at Central Park. That was accomplished by removing the backboards and hoops. Only the uprights remain.

The work by Town employees was not performed on Town property. Exactly one week earlier, Mayor Dora Sullivan signed over the park basketball court, the playground parking lot, and the old Cape Charles school to Echelon Resources, Inc., a private development firm.

According to nearby residents who watched the hoops being removed, it was a poignant sight. A young boy who lives up the street was shooting baskets, as he does almost every day, when the work began. When one goal was taken away, he moved to another, and then another. When time came to remove the last hoop he took a final shot, and went away with the distinction of being the last player ever to shoot a basket on the Town court.

No other basketball court exists either in the Town or anywhere nearby.

Since Echelon now owns the property, the question arises why Town employees were used to dismantle the basketball court. According to Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek, the Town did not want to represent that the park basketball court was available for use by the public. He feared that if someone were injured on the court, the Town could be sued, even though it no longer owns the court.

Panek told the WAVE that the Town has retained the backboards and hoops in storage.

Under the terms of the sales contract, the equipment belongs to Echelon.

Panek confirmed that no plans exist to build a new basketball court. “Talk to Town Council” — it’s their decision, he said.


According to the sales contract, the Town is required to close the east entrance to the park playground facing the property now belonging to Echelon. The Town has six days left to close that entrance.

Meanwhile, the “Cape Kids” playground arch remains leaning against the school building, where Town workers left it more than three months ago. At the time, Town Manager Heather Arcos told the WAVE that the arch entrance was removed in order to paint it and allow equipment access into the playground.

No repainting of the arch has been done.

Arcos submitted an application October 1 on behalf of Echelon to obtain historic tax credits for converting the school into apartments. In the application, Arcos represented to the National Park Service that the “basketball court will be removed and relocated to public property by the Town of Cape Charles.”

Town Council rejected a motion August 23 by Councilman Frank Wendell to require Echelon to pay for relocating the basketball court and to purchase other property for apartment parking so that the existing parking lot could remain for the playground and park. Every member of Council except Wendell opposed the motion.

Only hours earlier, the Town Planning Commission had voted to recommend a conditional use permit to allow an apartment building in an R-1 residential (single family) zone with the condition that the basketball court be relocated.

Town Council approved the conditional use permit but did not accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation to relocate the court.

Near the end of the August 23 Town Council meeting, the minutes read:

MAYOR SULLIVAN: “Gentlemen, can you afford the basketball court? Anything?”

(Echelon Developer) EDWIN GASKIN: “Not all received our proposal in the same spirit that we brought it. We negotiated in good faith with town staff. . . . We arrived at a contract that was approved by Town Council.”

SULLIVAN: “Is it too late to offer anything?”

GASKIN: “We feel like we’ve already negotiated the contract and we would like to leave it as it is.”

The Town sold the park property and school to Echelon for $10, but essentially paid Echelon developers Edwin Gaskin and J. David McCormack $41,000 to take over the property, that being the amount of earthquake insurance proceeds the Town agreed to give to Echelon.

Old School Cape Charles, a local residents’ group, continues to fight the divestiture of the school.  A court date is set for January 25.



2 Responses to “Bye-Bye Basketball: Town Removes Developer’s Hoops”

  1. Tim Krawczel on December 28th, 2012 7:59 am

    This is a great job of reporting…the facts speak for themselves.

  2. Don & Deborah Bender on December 28th, 2012 10:53 am

    We would like to know — why did town employees remove the backboards? Are the town employees still working for Echelon? This has been a sweetheart deal from day one. We would sure like to know why the town GAVE away our 100-year-old historic school. $10 — what a joke!