Photo: The new court at the Wenner.
Just six months after getting together with a group of friends at Conley’s Pub for a beer and to throw around the “wild” idea of replacing the worst basketball court – the vinyl floor at Belmont High’s Wenner Field House – any high school team had to play on, John Carson was standing on a shiny, new surface ready for action.
“This is amazing,” said Carson, as he and that original group of supporters, school officials and the captains of this coming season’s Belmont High basketball celebrated the court’s completion at Wenner Field House on Monday, Aug. 31.
“Amazing that, one, we pulled it off, and two, it looks this damn good,” he said.
The new stone grey and dark blue court – which will be inaugurated by Belmont High’s Volleyball team at a scrimmage this week – is a composite surface that took Rockland-based American Sport Floors about five weeks to complete.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Carson, who said once the original group of supporters – made up of himself, Paula Christofori, Jon Baldi, Chris Messer and David Ramsey – decided to move forward with the plan, it would take “only 10 to 12 weeks to get the money to do all this.”
The new court is an example of a growing trend in Belmont where – whether out of frustration or due to philanthropic intentions – residents, businesses and groups join to raise the private funds needed to build or improve public infrastructure that town government is finding harder to finance.
Recently, private monies have been used to repair school playgrounds, irrigate town fields and “rescue” the new swimming facility, to name a few.
The new varsity court joins the list of privately funded/public amenities that included a pair of $35,000 contributions; from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation and Belmont Youth Basketball Association.
“In no way did [Belmont Savings] want their logo on [the center court] because they wanted to do the right thing, so hats off to them,” said Carson.
An additional $40,000 was collected from private individuals – “from $10 to $5,000,” said Carson – and $15,000 from Belmont Boosters allowed for the entire varsity areas to be redone.
The adjacent JV court and surrounding areas will be completed in the summer of 2016 financed by a $100,000 appropriation from the town’s Capital Budget Committee.
Carson also praised Belmont Schools Superintendent John Phelan as “someone who gets things done” for making the project a priority “because it will be used by all students, and that was a key for him.”
Opening the court to the players for a brief shoot-around – Carson said hopefully the new court “will bring a championship with it.”
“No pressure, guys,” he said to the players.