Some Larimer residents upset over name of Costa basketball court
Pittsburgh on Thursday officially opened a newly refurbished outdoor basketball court in Larimer, but some residents objected to the city naming it after a political family from the neighborhood.
The city chose the name Costa Court because of the family’s record of public service and history in the area, according to Mayor Bill Peduto. The family, which includes state Sen. Jay Costa and former state Reps. Paul and Dom Costa, lived nearby for nearly 100 years and once ran a store on the site of the court, he said.
Several residents acknowledged the family’s record of community service, but said the court would have been better named after someone like the late Tyrone “Moon” Howard. He played basketball there and went on to become a member of the Harlem Globetrotters professional team. Howard died in 2013.
“He came from the community, and he was a professional basketball player, so it connects with the basketball court,” said longtime resident Betty Lane, 81. “I don’t have a problem with the Costas. The Costas have done a lot for the neighborhood. Maybe we can find some other building that we can name after Costa, but it seems more plausible and realistic that you name a basketball court after somebody who has played basketball.”
Pittsburgh spent about $100,000 on improvements, including a new surface, fence, drinking fountain and line painting, according to Public Works Director Mike Gable. The court at Larimer Avenue and Shetland Street was there for years, but had fallen into disrepair, he said.
City officials, residents and members of the Costa family gathered at the court Thursday morning for a ceremonial christening.
Peduto said the city owns other vacant property nearby and suggested it could be developed for other recreational uses, including more basketball courts, and named after neighborhood notables.
“A lot of activity could occur in an area right now that is just vacant lots,” he said. “We’re going to work with the community to find out what their plan is and then we’ve made a commitment to be able to put into our capital budget funds in order to make that happen, recognizing the individuals who called this neighborhood home, and at the same time being able to build something special for the neighborhood.”
Jay Costa and brother Guy, who served for decades in city and Allegheny County government positions, attended the event with their mother, Louise, 89.
They described Larimer as a great place to grow up and a mixed neighborhood where people of all colors lived together in harmony.
Jay Costa said his grandfather and others in the neighborhood started an annual Italian festival. His uncles operated Costa Brothers grocery on the spot and sold Christmas trees each year and fish on the sidewalk in front of the store during holidays.
“I can remember my uncles coming out from the store and saying, ‘Give this person a tree and don’t charge them,’ and, ‘Give this person some food.’ It’s just who we were in the community,” he said. “We saw first-hand the role that our uncles and others and my aunts all played in helping and supporting families. When they needed some support, some help, they were there to help them and assist them.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-564-3080, [email protected] or via Twitter .