When Maria Dorn and a small group of people set out last year to turn a tragedy into a community project to rehab Westbrook’s aging Fraser Field basketball court, they admittedly underestimated the funds required to do so.
A year later, work is already under way and an event is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7, to celebrate the $155,000 overhaul of the court and nearby field.
The courts were frequented by Treyjon Arsenault, who had recently graduated from Westbrook High School when he was killed during a shooting in Portland’s Old Port in May 2015. He was 19 and an accomplished three-sport athlete while at Westbrook High School. A day later, a large, impromptu vigil was held at the courts overlooking the Presumpscot River.
During the past year, city groups and organizations came together and provided funding to make the complete project come to life.
“It was a tragic event that ended up being spun into something productive and beautiful,” said Dorn this week. “Once people found out what we were doing, everyone kind of hopped on.”
The Cornelia Warren Community Association is donating $75,000 toward the project, which includes replacement of two full-court basketball courts, new lighting, seating and related landscaping and irrigation improvements.
Funds also came from the city’s Capitial Improvement Plan, $35,000; the Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corp, $30,000; the Recreation and Conservation Commission, $10,000; and friends of Arsenault, $5,000.
According to Dorn, the celebration on Aug. 7 will take place in the parking lot near the future courts, which are expected be complete sometime in August. She said the party, from 3-6 p.m., is open to the public and will feature food, a DJ and more. She said the date was chosen because most of Arsenault’s friends will head back to college prior to the courts being completed.
Arsenault’s mother, Nancy Laxson, is expected to speak during the event. Another portion of the project will install a memorial bench for Arsenault.
Following the tragedy last year, friends of Arsenault, led by Derek Breunig, donated $5,000 to the city in hopes of eventually renovating the courts. It was originally estimated to cost about $40,000. But when a specialist priced out the project, it was a significantly higher cost than previously thought.
“He said that we didn’t have enough money if we were going to do it right,” she said.
The courts hadn’t been upgraded since they were built in the 1970s. Dorn then went to the Cornelia Warren Community Association to discuss the larger project.
Martha Day, the president of the association, said this week that part of the organization’s work is to provide matching funds for recreational projects that benefit Westbrook residents.
“We felt that the basketball court renovation fit well with that purpose and that it will also enhance the site that holds Fraser Field and the Cornelia Warren Outdoor Pool,” she said. “We are pleased to contribute to the project and look forward to seeing it come together.”
A 3-on-3 basketball tournament is already in the works for when the courts are complete.
Dorn is still working on a Phase 2 of the project, which would develop a walking trail around the perimeter of the park, revamp the softball field and brighten up a path connecting to the riverwalk. She said she’s looking at a state grant to secure the funding.
“We just wanted this done right. There’s a lot of meaning behind it,” she said.
Work is underway on two new basketball courts at the Fraser Field complex behind Main Street in Westbrook. Funding for the $155,000 project, which will also add new lighting and seating, came from multiple sources in the community in honor of Treyjon Arsenault.
The words “RIP Trey” were spraypainted on the Fraser Field basketball court during a vigil for Trey Arsenault last year. An event celebrating a complete renovation of the courts is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7 from 3-6 p.m.