TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Tuscaloosa Police Department is spearheading a project to help youth play sports and have fun in a safe and positive environment.

Phase one of construction got underway Tuesday morning to demolish an aging basketball court built 60 years ago. Deputy Chief Sebo Sanders says it’s being replaced with a new state-of-the-art basketball court on 25th Street in the McKenzie Court neighborhood and will bring streetball to Tuscaloosa.

“This will mean a lot. One thing at Tuscaloosa Police Department we are trying to do is bring positive activities to the people. It is going to be one of the best streetball basketball courts in the Southeast. We will bring lots of excitement to this area of West Tuscaloosa,” Sanders said.

The facility will also be used for volleyball and outdoor fitness, Sanders says he is hopeful that the new basketball court facility will help young people stay positive, productive and avoid getting into trouble.

“It is a great thing to have,” Sanders said “Anytime you can motivate a kid and be able to come out and pick up a basketball instead of a gun or drugs, that’s a positive and a win-win for everybody.”

TPD expects the new courts to be built in three years. The city will lease the property adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School from the Tuscaloosa Board of Education.

“It is something positive and this is called community policing. This comes from Project Unity and Elevate Tuscaloosa. We’re all working together in order to make this a great city and these are things we put out in the community,” Sanders said.

The court is across from the Tuscaloosa PAL gym, which serves around 200 K-12 students. There are no other convenient outdoor basketball courts in the area, where an estimated 1,300 K-12 students reside. It will be constructed with top-of-the-line play surface in red and blue, the team colors of the former Druid City High Dragons.