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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Waterford to improve basketball courts at Town Hall and Leary Park

    A long crack runs through the basketball court at Leary Park in Waterford on May 22, 2024. The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday appropriate $250,000 to improve the court and another one at Town Hall. (Daniel Drainville/The Day)
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    Cracks and divots at a basketball court at Leary Park in Waterford on May 22, 2024. The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday appropriate $250, 000 to improve the court and another one at Town Hall. (Daniel Drainville/The Day)
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    Basketball court at Leary Park in Waterford on May 22, 2024. The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday appropriate $250,000 to improve the court and another one at Town Hall. (Daniel Drainville/The Day)
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    Waterford ― The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night approved spending $250,000 to resurface two basketball courts ― one of the two behind Town Hall, and the court at Leary Park on Vauxhall Street Extension.

    The appropriation still needs to be approved by the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting before the project can begin.

    Prior to approving the funding, Recreation and Parks Director Ryan McNamara pointed out several people playing basketball.

    “The basketball courts behind you, that are bustling with activity right now, were built in 1976,” he told selectmen who were meeting at Town Hall. “Since then it has only had surface repairs, crack repairs, minimal maintenance done to it.”

    In a letter McNamara wrote to the Board of Selectmen at the beginning of the month, he noted the deterioration of the courts, and that the condition poses safety risks and hinders the quality of sports activities on the courts.

    “We are getting to the point now where those crack repairs now aren’t sustainable, or aren’t going to perform (up to) their use, and we have to deal with the structure underneath it,” McNamara added.

    According to a quote McNamara received from West Haven-based Hinding Tennis Courts, the project would cost $244,910. That quote included four new basketball single-rim hoops. The current hoops have double rims.

    McNamara said the cost of the project has increased $40,000 in just the past year.

    As resident and University of Connecticut senior Wasiq Namwar played one-on-one with a friend at Town Hall Wednesday, he said cracks have been a problem for a while. He said he and his friends usually play at Toby May Park in New London where it’s more shaded.

    Around him, there were cracks. Some were protruding with grass and dirt.

    At the adjacent court, 45-year-old Norwich resident Marlon Delgado was shooting a basketball by himself.

    “I’ve seen worse,” he said of the court.

    He admitted that he’s not at the court often, but said he would hope the town would survey the public about whether they want the resurfacing. If the town does spend that much money on the courts, it should make sure people are using the courts.

    Tennis, pickleball court work is also needed

    At the tennis courts at Leary Park Tuesday, residents Dan and Karla Bendor were giving friend Ira Cohen a pickleball lesson. McNamara said the tennis courts are also set for an upgrade as part of a long-range capital improvement plan.

    Dan Bendor showed divots and long cracks in the court surface.

    He and other pickleball players said they would like to see dedicated pickleball courts built as part of the planned upgrades.

    “The pickleball player’s prayer is dedicated pickleball nets,” he added.

    “When we do the basketball court up there and the tennis courts, we plan to do set, designated pickleball courts alongside tennis courts,” McNamara told selectmen. “We have a plan in place to have that done, it depends on who ends up getting the bid.”

    d.drainville@theday.com

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