New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Upper East Side Dad Secures New Basketball Courts in Four-Year Civics Lesson for Sons with a Little Help from Council Member Ben Kallos

UES Dad Secures New Basketball Courts in Four-Year Civics Lesson for Sons with a Little Help from Council Member Ben Kallos

Four-Year Quest for Basketball Court Improvement Ends in Win for Parent and Children

Basketball Court Renovation Ribbon Cutting


Upper East Side, NY – An Upper East Side dad, Greg Davis, whose two sons play basketball in John Jay Park, wouldn’t take no for an answer as he persisted for four-years alongside Council Member Ben Kallos for the city Parks Department to improve dilapidated courts. The courts were nothing more than cracked asphalt, rusted metal backboards, and badly angled net-less hoops. Greg succeeded in getting improvements done by the Parks Department, with newly painted playing lines, a smooth playing surface, and three new polycarbonate backboards with shooting square and nets.



Over the course of four years Greg Davis had nearly perfect attendance at more than 40 First Friday meetings in-person with Council Member Ben Kallos from 8am to 10am each month. Each month Greg shared his work with the Council Member’s staff, 311 requests, and direct advocacy with Community Board 8, and with the Park Department.




ribbon cut

Advocacy initially began in 2015; the improvements started in 2016 with getting lines painted so the courts could have a clearly delineated free throw lines. In 2017, advocacy focused on painting a three-point arc, sidelines and the baselines. The next year focused on getting the entire court of play painted, removing the weeds and smoothing over the crack on the courts surface. Later in 2018 Parks Department promised new backboards and this year they were installed with $7,500 in discretionary funding from Council Ben Kallos.


Evolution of John Jay Parks Basketball Courts, 2015 – 2019





2015. Faded free throw lane.


2016. Free throw lane.


2017. 3 Point arc & sideline.



2018. Courts filled-in.


2019. New backboards.



2019. New backboards

As noted, last year Greg Davis, secured a promise from the Parks Department to replace the backboards as part of the new maintenance. When that didn’t happen within a couple of weeks, he bet his son that he wouldn’t shave until the backboards were installed. Each month Davis showed up to Council Member Kallos’ First Friday with a slightly longer and scraggly beard sharing his plight. After a year of not shaving, Davis’ son would eventually let him off the hook for his over-optimistic bet, with the added pressure from his entire family, friends, coworkers, who were not a fan of the beard. His persistence continued into 2019, when Davis noticed new backboards in other parks that were funded by local dollars and asked about funding these backboards. This summer, Parks Department offered to replace the backboards in exchange for $7,500 in discretionary funding from Council Member Ben Kallos, which was immediately approved in July, funded in mid-August, with the work completed in one day on Wednesday, August 23, 2019.


“Greg Davis deserves father of the decade for his four-year quest to get his kids the basketball courts they deserved. It’s a lesson in civics first hand for his sons to show how you can get things done in government,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Spoiler alert, the secret to success in dealing with government is perseverance. Greg Davis is the model of perseverance joining me for likely nearly 100 hours of First Friday meetings over the past four years, advocating for nets, lines to be painted, and finally winning backboards. While I am happy to celebrate today, I am hoping that moving forward we can keep our playgrounds well maintained without four years of advocacy.”


“Swish!,” said Greg Davis, the father who fought for and won new basketball courts for his sons and neighborhood children in John Jay Park.


"People enjoy John Jay Park in many ways.  It's a small jewel.  But because of our size, we don't often get equipment evaluated and/or repairs done. For the past 5 years -- at least -- Greg Davis has been singular in his personal advocacy for new basketball surfaces, lines, backstops, hoops/nets, and taking tree limbs out of the shooting zone in John Jay Park.  I stood with him several times as he discussed these problems to Parks supervisors in the park, and at community meetings.  He often said to me, "Why can't we have what other parks have?"  And we did discuss possible strategies to get it done.  Eventually, new court lines were drawn and laid down, and now the new backstops, hoops, and nets.  It is only through Greg's tenacity, research, constant and clear communication with great photos, significant time commitment, and very creative witness inside his family and before the community and Ben Kallos' office on this issue that made it happen.  He and his sons cared so much and took this on for the basketball enthusiasts in this particular park.  He is an example to us all.  Thank you so much, Greg, and congratulations on this significant achievement.  Well done.  Terry Grace, Friends of John Jay Park"




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