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Marcus Garvey Basketball League Sound Permit Restored for Final Tournament

By Gustavo Solis | August 20, 2014 5:19pm
 The youth summer basketball league has been in East Harlem for 14 years. 
The League
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EAST HARLEM — Marcus Garvey Park's youth summer basketball league is on the rebound after police restored its sound permit just in time for the end-of-season tournament.

The NYPD approved a sound system for the last few days of the teams' season — just in time for the semi-finals and the award ceremony of "The League," organizers said.

“It’s great, I really wanted to give these kids the acknowledgment they deserve,” said Craig Yancey, who emcees the games and started The League, which has played at Marcus Garvey Park at 120th Street and Madison Avenue this summer.

The summer basketball program — which has operated for 14 years but previously played at the Wagner Houses — was granted a sound permit for July. But when Yancey tried to renew the permit for August the NYPD refused, citing numerous noise complaints.

Yancey and Mike Parker, who helped start the league, reached out to local politicians, including City Councilmember Inez Dickens and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

On Sunday, the speaker tweeted to Parker:

On Monday, 25th Precinct Capt. Thomas Harnisch stopped by Marcus Garvey Park and let Yancey know that they’d get the sound permit back for the rest of the season — which at that time amounted to three more days.

“I was surprised,” Yancey said. “That’s what we’ve always wanted, for there to be a police presence. It shows the community is together. I just want to thank whoever made this happen."

Yancey and Harnisch met to speak about respecting the neighborhood and improving the relationship between police officers and the league, Yancey said.

"He seemed receptive," he said. "He didn't charge me the $45" customary charge for the permit.

Officials from the NYPD and Mark-Viverito's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Since July, there have only been three noise complaints filed to 311 from buildings immediately surrounding the southeast side of Marcus Garvey Park, which is where the basketball courts are, city records show.

Two of the complaints were for a loud ice cream truck and one was for loud construction work, according to city data.

After DNAinfo reported that The League had been denied a permit for August, neighbors in the buildings near the courts said they were not bothered by the basketball tournament's public address system.

"I walk by and it's not too loud," said Timothy Foster who lives on 122nd Street and Madison Avenue. "I don't know why people complained, they play during the day."

The league was created in 2000 as a way to keep young people out of trouble during the summer months. It started out with a couple of children from Wagner Houses playing in the local courts.

This year they had 26 teams in three divisions of players between 12 and 18 years old, Yancey said.

The playoffs began Tuesday and tournaments end Thursday with the annual awards ceremony. Yancey and his team of organizers keep track of the stats and award players with the most points, assists and rebounds in each division. 

"Everyone likes to feel recognized," Yancey said.