By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Northborough – Over 500 children in grades 1 through 8 participate each year in the Northborough Youth Basketball Association (NYBA), which runs summer and winter programs as well as travel teams. Games are held on the courts at Ellsworth-McAfee Park as well as at the local elementary schools. But over the past few years, the harsh winter weather, as well as the natural decay of the 20-year-old courts, took its toll. The Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School was in particularly bad shape, according to Tom Spataro, the NYBA president.
“The court surface was so rough that cars frequently parked on them because no one knew where the parking lot stopped and the courts started,” he said.
As a result, in the summer months teams played at Ellsworth-McAfee Park, but officials would have to frequently ask older teens or adults who were playing there to leave so NYBA could hold their scheduled games.
Knowing that the younger players needed a safe place to play, NYBA officials decided to apply for $110,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) monies to fund court renovations at the elementary schools.
Through a year-long process, which ultimately needed approval from the voters at Town Meeting, the group was successful.
“These funds were used to dig up the existing hoops and pavement at the Proctor courts. We put in four new hoops and pavement, paint, and lined two courts,” Spataro explained. “For [Robert E.] Melican Middle, we are replacing six hoops that were put in decades ago and filling in gaping cracks. We’ll have four courts painted and lined as well.”
Officials are hoping to have extra funds left over, Spataro said, for repairs for the courts at the Marion E. Zeh Elementary School and the Marguerite E. Peaslee Elementary School “but we might have to do them in the next project. Lincoln Elementary School courts will be updated under a separate renovation project.”
He added that many helped NYBA through the “complicated process” of applying for CPA funds including the town’s Community Preservation Committee, Town Administrator John Coderre, Finance Director Cheryl Levesque, and Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Tom Maedler, as well as an outside consultant, Rob Para.
Proctor students joined town and NYBA officials Sept. 12 in a special ceremony to celebrate the completed renovations of the two courts. The students cheered enthusiastically as a ribbon was cut to formally commemorate the court’s re-opening.
Christine Johnson, the superintendent of Northborough and Southborough schools, said the project was “a great lesson for the children to see what happens when you work together as a team.”
Spataro noted that while the courts will be for the school children during the day, they will be available for other town residents to use during off-school hours.
“I can’t tell you how excited all of the kids and parents are to have a nice place to come and play basketball,” he added. “In this tough economy, these types of projects really give the community some life.”
For more information, visit www.northboroyouthbasketball.org.