Efforts are ongoing by the Rotary Club of St. John to raise $50,000 for a badly needed refurbishment of the Coral Bay basketball court located adjacent to Guy Benjamin School.
“Rotary is looking to raise the money over the next couple of months,” Coral Bay Community Council President and Rotary Club member Sharon Coldren said.
Rotary already has $15,000 from three donors, and Coldren said she hopes several other benefactors step up to the plate.
Rotary also hopes St. John contractors will volunteer their services to make repairs, she said.
Coldren said she expects Rotary to get enough contributions by the end of April so work can be done during the summer.
“So Guy Benjamin students will have a fully operational basketball court when they return to school,” she said.
She said the court will also have lines painted on it for volleyball games. Additionally the new bleachers will provide a place for community gatherings such as the annual Coral Bay Community Christmas Party.
The list of needs is long. “There has been no maintenance for at least 10 years,” Coldren said.
Ticking off the problems, she said the basketball net backboards have slipped out of place, they don’t have proper hoops, the asphalt is cracked and the bleachers are so rotted they can’t be used.
Government House sent out a press release Tuesday announcing the agreement between the Sports, Recreation and Parks Department and the Moravian Church Virgin Islands Conference for the repair. Coldren said work on the agreement began in 2006.
The basketball court is located on property owned by the Moravian Church and currently leased to T-Rex St. John LLC. Through the agreement, Sports, Recreation and Parks will undertake the repairs, estimated to cost approximately $50,000, when Rotary raises the funds.
"This is a win-win situation for the entire community," deJongh said. "Working with the generous members of Rotary Club of St. John and the community-minded leaders of the Moravian Church, we have developed a partnership to repair a neglected recreational facility for our children. Although the court is on private property, once the repairs are completed, it will be open to the public and remain that way until a new public basketball facility is constructed and operational. I want to express my thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this agreement possible."
The refurbishment of the court will involve resurfacing and repairs to the bleachers, goals and baskets, and will be supervised by Sports, Recreation and Parks. The public-private partnership, which also involved the Coral Bay Community Council, is similar to the one that spearheaded the successful Pine Peace Basketball Court renovation project completed in October of 2013.
"Over the last three or four years, we have been able to refurbish close to 40 recreational facilities across the territory," deJongh said, "providing needed afterschool and weekend outlets for high energy young people."
To make donations, write checks to the Rotary Club of St. John Foundation. Put Coral Bay Basketball Court in the memo line. Mail to Rotary, P.O. Box 710, St. John, VI 00831. For more information, call Rotary President Joan Bermingham at 776-618 or the Coral Bay Community Council office at 776-2099.