GENEVA — You’re never too young to get involved in neighborhood activism.
Gannon Annear is proof of that.
With a boost to the podium from his mom, Geneva school board member Stephanie Annear of Washington Street, Gannon made his pitch at City Council’s Feb. 5 meeting.
“My name is Gannon, and I’m six and a half years old, and I want a lower basketball hoop at Jefferson Park for kids,” he said.
Gannon’s mom took it from there, explaining that there were “amazing renovations” done at the park, including a walking/running/biking track, a large gazebo and new trees. However, one thing was missing: the lower hoop for youngsters like Gannon who have a heckuva time heaving up a shot at a 10-foot basket.
“That eight-foot basketball hoop disappeared and hasn’t come back,” she told Council. “It would be really fun to get that back there.”
In case Gannon’s and mom’s podium pitch wasn’t enough, they presented Council with a petition with 32 signatures collected after knocking on doors around their Washington Street neighborhood.
“The response has been great,” Stephanie related last week. “Many councilors sent messages or came up to Gannon and me this past week to thank Gannon for getting involved and to express their support of his request. The city staff we heard from also support and appreciate this request.”
City Recreation Director Dave Sharman said that “we have been in contact with Stephanie, Gannon and other residents and fully intend to install it this spring.”
Stephanie, who is married to Chris Annear, was unsure if their efforts would be successful.
“Gannon and I went into this knowing that there would be a cost to the city, so we talked about how a youth-height hoop may or may not happen,” she said. “We still decided that it would be a good idea to ask, not just for our family, but for all of the families in our neighborhood with younger children.”
She said their first step in getting the lower basket was attending a Founders Square Neighborhood Association meeting and asking them for their insight.
“They were very supportive and helpful in our next steps,” said Stephanie. “I think Gannon ringing doorbells, explaining his cause and asking for signatures on his petition was a great experience. Seeing so many people enthusiastically sign that petition showed us that we have a lot of support and a lot of young playground-goers on Jefferson Avenue and Washington Street.”
The hardest part, she said, was going to the podium at the meeting, which by the way, is streamed online on Finger Lakes Television.
“Speaking publicly at the City Council meeting was definitely the most daunting part of this experience,” she said. “I told Gannon that most adults, myself very much included, get nervous before speaking in front of people, but that if we were serious about asking for a basketball hoop, we had to ask for it at a City Council meeting.”
The youngster’s efforts drew praise from Mayor Steve Valentino.
“I think it was great to have Gannon’s involvement. I always get excited when our city’s youth become engaged and want to make a difference,” he said by email Friday. “In January, we had the Geneva Robotics team give a great presentation and Zachary Michaels’ concerns about a new project development. This type of community involvement provides the groundwork for future community leaders.”
And praise came from City Manager Sage Gerling as well.
“Gannon did a wonderful job going door to door and connecting with the Founders Square neighborhood association to get valuable support for his request,” she said. “We look forward to putting back the basketball hoop when the ground thaws.”
Stephanie expressed pride in her son’s efforts, for which the mother and son celebrated with a trip to Byrne Dairy for Cookiewiches for the whole family, including his 4-year-old brother, Soren.