UTICA, N.Y. -- The city of Utica was dealing with an issue of non-residents hanging out at some of its municipal housing projects and harassing people.
"This group was terrorizing people, harassing people, in fact assaulting people," says Utica Municipal Housing Authority Executive Director, Robert Calli.
So, the M.H.A. eliminated the problem by eliminating the draw for those non-residents at N.D. Peters, F.X. Matt and Adrean Terrace Apartments.
"And so we made the decision in consultation with our residents, in consultation with our chief of police, that it would be best served not to create an attractive nuisance for them, and so we took down the basketball stantions and hoops," said Calli. "We found that the basketball court was a place that they gathered."
Calli says the move, along with enhanced security and off-duty patrols by Utica Police, helped decrease the problem.
"The elimination of a place of congregation at the basketball court, that it has worked and we have seen a substantial decrease in non-resident juvenile presence at the Adrean Terrace Complex," says Calli.
The problem is, the bold and decisive move has also affected children who live in the complex and did nothing wrong.
"If affects me because I have to go all the way to Proctor Park even though my mom is tired from working her overnights and stuff and she wants to sleep and she doesn't want me going there by myself because there's a lot of bad influences and stuff over there,"said Hassan Sukunda.
"I hate the fact that he has to go to Proctor Park. It's far, I get out of work, I'm tired, I've got to cook dinner. It's a lot easier to send him through the back foor and have him play out there," says Suzana Sukunda.
Calli says he looks forward to the day M.H.A. can replace the hoops and poles, but says it will likely not be this year.