Jay mother looks to honor son’s legacy with much needed tennis court renovations

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JAY – Deb Roberts, president and founder of the Holland Strong Community Foundation, is on a mission to honor her son’s legacy by working toward providing resources, opportunities and community improvements to benefit community youth. Roberts’ current project through the Holland Strong Foundation is the unused and decrepit tennis courts located on the RSU 73 property.

“They’ve been obsolete for many years,” Roberts said. “I’ve been working on writing grants and collecting donations to be able to revitalize them.”

The project intends to remove the existing courts, fencing, lighting and electrical components and base materials to provide proper compaction, install new drainage, and install three new asphaltic concrete courts with new furnishings. The current total estimate of this project is $409,334.

The foundation has received tentative approval for a 50/50 matching grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as in-kind donations in the amount of $212,101 that have been received, promised or are pending approval from the potential donor. The foundation is requesting in-kind labor from the three towns of RSU 73 in the amount of $27,202.35, which will be matched by the LWCF.

Roberts has gotten support from many community members and the school itself, but needs further community support to bring the project to life, and knows this would make her son proud.

“He did his entire education in the Jay system, which is now RSU 73, and I just really want to be able to honor him and his legacy by being able to help his alma mater,” Roberts said. “I really would like to get the community support…we’ve got community businesses beyond even our RSU community, that as long as this works out…they’ve offered to do a part of that work…we’ve got commitments far and wide for it, and so looking to fill the gap from the community that would benefit the most from it.”

Roberts wants the community to share her vision and think about what this project means for the kids in the community as well as the adults. The project has Jay’s support and Livermore will consider it while putting together the warrant for the town meeting in January, but she’s been disappointed that the Livermore Falls selectboard voted against putting it to a community vote.

“I was at the Livermore meeting…and then I got to Livermore Falls and they had already voted,” Roberts said. “They were very gracious and they let me do my presentation..but they indicated that they had already voted and I wasn’t able to change their mind even though I pleaded with them to just…all I’m asking is to put it out to the community to be able to vote on it.”

As a member of this community, she sees that everyone has a vested interest, including herself. Roberts hopes others will rally around this project to keep it moving forward.

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