The 70-year-old tennis courts at Cumberland School could see new life, due to a fundraising effort led by parents and neighbors.
The three courts, originally built in the 1940s, have fallen into disrepair. In recent years, the cracks in the sidewalks have presented a tripping hazard for children, said Cumberland Principal Jayne Heffron.
"There are some pretty big cracks there, and it is pretty easy for kids to trip," Heffron said.
A group of residents has formed to raise $128,000 to restore the courts. The group presented its proposal to the School Board's Building and Grounds Committee on Wednesday night, asking for a district contribution of $30,000. It would cost $30,000 just to remove the courts.
The fundraising committee has so far raised $22,000 of its $128,000 goal. Considering there are $15,000 in potential grants in the works, the group would need to acquire $30,000 in district funding and raise an additional $61,000 to fund the court reconstruction.
The group hopes to begin court construction in May and finish six weeks later. The new courts are expected to have a lifespan of 30 years.
The court restoration project has been on the village's long-term maintenance plan for 15 years, but has been put on the back burner due to higher-priority maintenance needs.
Both Superintendent Mary Gavigan and district Business Manager Shawn Yde said the fundraising effort presents a great opportunity to partner with a group willing to raise funds for a project that poses a safety risks to students.
"Not often does someone come forward and offer $100,000 to replace a tennis court," Yde said.
The regulation-size courts will be the only courts in the village that have, in addition to the standard 78-foot court lines, a 60-foot line for children ages 10 and under.
Currently, Cumberland students do not use their tennis courts, but sometimes hit tennis balls as part of the 'striking unit' in their physical education curriculum.
Cumberland gym teachers Kirk Morril and Kristy Eagon said the tennis courts would give them a chance to expand the existing tennis 'striking' unit into a tennis unit.
"Enabling us to incorporate a tennis unit into our already strong curriculum gives us another tool to reach students exposing them to a skill set of a sport that can be played at any age," the teachers wrote in a letter to the board. "With this tennis program we are able to reach all students and adapt the activities for students with special needs to be successful."
The United States Tennis Association has already donated raquets, balls and nets to the school for an elementary school tennis unit.
Board member Jim Phillips asked if it was practical to use the courts at Cahill Park. To give a sense of perspective, Cumberland Principal Jayne Heffron said it takes the fifth graders two hours to travel to the high school and run the mile on the school's track.
After making its presentation to the Building and Grounds Committee Wednesday night, the fundraising committee will return to a regular School Board meeting in the future with more detailed information. At that time, board members may make a decision about granting the funds.