Building Community in Crisfield One Basketball Court at a Time

The Lower Eastern Shore “Ups Its Game!”

Planning in Progress

by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner

Over the past few years, worn, disused, and otherwise downright grim-looking basketball courts in several of Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore communities have undergone a stunning transformation.

Located primarily in parks, these courts have been the object of revitalization efforts initiated by Easton native Shelton Hawkins, founder of the nonprofit, Play In Color. Turning them from expanses of broken paving riddled with weeds into vibrant, exciting works of art has been both Hawkins’ brainchild and passion.

With a population of just more than 2,600, Crisfield is the southernmost town in Maryland, located in Somerset County on the Eastern Shore. Recently, the Crisfield Arts and Entertainment District Project, in conjunction with Hawkins and former international pro-ball player and Crisfield native, Andre Collins, conducted a design competition and are continuing to fundraise for two basketball courts and a tennis court located at the Crisfield Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority, City of Crisfield, and the Somerset County Parks and Recreation Department are also teaming up with them to help rehabilitate the courts.

These improvements do not come cheap: about $120,000 of the roughly $145,000 cost of the project involves resurfacing the courts prior to painting and replacing the nets and other equipment as needed. The painting will be led by Hawkins and Play In Color member, Megan MacLennan Cook, along with the winner of the design competition and a team of volunteers from the community. They hope to begin the project early in summer 2021.

The experience of coming out on a nice and day and pitching in, seeing the artist’s vision emerge and brighten the courts, meeting neighbors and maybe even making new friends, is the type of hands-on effort that that not only fosters a sense pride at the end of the day, but also a real tangible sense of shared ownership for the courts and surrounding spaces. All of which are arguably more important than ever in the time of a global pandemic. It is community planning and placemaking at its best!

To learn more about the revitalization of Crisfield courts, visit the Crisfield Arts and Entertainment District website. For more information about the Idlewild and Moton Parks projects, visit Play In Color’s website and to watch additional television coverage/interviews, visit WMDT Channel 47 ABC News website.

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