After the ceremonial groundbreaking for Avon Middle School tennis court renovations Thursday, Director Bruce Williams said that the plan is to reopen them this summer.
"I anticipate the courts to be ready for play first week in June," Williams said.
Students, school staff, town officials and project organizers gathered early morning under the sun to celebrate the start of fine-grading the court space.
"The goal in September is to bring back tennis as part of the physical education program," Principal Marco Famiglietti said.
The courts will be open to the public, as well, and are going to be full size by United States Tennis Court Association (USTA) standards. Quickstart lines are also incorporated into the design, Famiglietti said, so that the courts can be used horizontally as well. If necessary, that provides the capability to make up to eight courts available in gym classes, which can be divided with removeable nets.
"These will be the first courts in Avon to have that Quickstart line," Famiglietti said.
Famiglietti told the students present at the groundbreaking that there was a lot of teamwork involved in the project. The Avon Community Recreational Neighborhood, Inc. (ACORN) spearheaded a private fundraising-driven campaign, gifting $23,500 to the town. The initiative led to collaboration between the community, town and schools to make the new tennis courts possible.
The town, for instance, is contributing $45,000-worth of in-kind service through Public Works for court renovation. and the committed a combined total of $65,000 to the project. The USTA awarded the school district with a $36,500 matching grant for the project. The Hoffman Foundation and the Avon Education Foundation also contributed grants, $10,000 and $1,500, respectively.
Town Council Chairman Mark Zacchio was in attendance, as well as Board of Education member Katharine Zirolli.
"These courts used to be very well used," Zacchio said. "They will be used by the community and the schools. It's a win all around."
Weather-permitting, Williams said the plan is to install fencing around the court area and add a coat of payment. The asphalt needs to sit untouched for 30 days and then Public Works will put on the last coat of pavement and finish painting the courts at the end of May.
Seventeen pine trees were removed as part of the construction to make room for the tennis courts and will be replaced. Some were "severely damaged" from the October snowstorm and others had severed roots after Public Works installed an underground drain for the courts, Williams said. About 15 white spruces will be planted alongside the courts, as well as some decorative ones.
Laura Young, of ACORN, said that she's grateful to everyone who helped out from the beginning, listened to an idea and worked together to make it happen.
"To know this court will serve people of all ages and abilities makes me very happy," Young said.
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