The basketball hoops at Niantic Park in Oak Bluffs came down this week and courts were closed amid concerns about people violating rules to prevent unsafe crowding, parks and recreation committee chairman Amy Billings confirmed.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Friday, Ms. Billings said problems at the courts have been piling up since June, and the parks and recreation department has limited staff for enforcement this summer.

“We just don’t want anybody to get sick or hurt. Unfortunately, it’s our job to be the bad guys, the last thing we wanted to do was close the courts,” she said.

For decades, Niantic Park been an Island hub for organized and pickup basketball games, both youth and adult. The courts and the entire recreation area were refurbished by the town four years ago. In previous summers the courts have been packed with players and spectators nearly every day.

This year the courts were closed in March soon after the pandemic hit, and they reopened in June with rules, including a mask requirement and a maximum occupancy of 10 people on a court at a time.

The courts are open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, except on rainy days when they are locked for safety reasons to prevent falls on wet surfaces.

Ms. Billings said the parks department has been receiving complaints all summer about people violating the pandemic-related rules, and is short-staffed and could not monitor the courts with enough regularity to ensure the guidelines were being followed.

“We were already getting close to having to close them because of the crowds this summer,” she said.

This past week when tropical storm Isaias passed by the Island, the courts were locked all day on Tuesday, Ms. Billings said. She said when recreation director Marc Rivers drove by the courts, he saw a group of kids playing who had gained entry by lifting the bottom of the fence and squeezing underneath.

She said while the committee had been divided about whether to close the courts, the misuse was the last straw.

“I understand the want and need to play but doors are locked for a reason,” Ms. Billings said. “At some point you have to hold somebody responsible, you don’t break into the library because it’s closed.”

She said the committee will meet later this month to discuss reopening the courts.