The project honors Westbrook High grad Treyjon Arsenault, 19, who died after a shooting in Portland a year ago.
A project that began as a small fundraiser in the wake of tragedy has blossomed into a major overhaul of public recreational space in Westbrook.
This summer, the Fraser Field basketball courts behind Main Street will receive a $150,000 rehab, courtesy of additional funding coming mostly from the Cornelia Warren Community Association.
Following the death of Westbrook High School graduate Treyjon Arsenault, 19, who died after a shooting in Portland a year ago, friends launched an effort to memorialize Arsenault, and the city jumped in to assist.
Arsenault was known to spend long hours on the courts, and cited it as one of his favorite spots. The court was also the site of a large, impromptu vigil the day of his death. At the time, the city had a simple resurfacing planned, but due to the passion now surrounding the site, the project has grown into a large-scale renovation.
The project includes the resurfacing and expansion of the current one-and-a-half courts into two full-sized courts, new lighting, hoops, and player and spectator seating.
In the days following the vigil last May, Derek Breunig, a close friend of Arsenault’s, began a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign. Of the $10,000 raised in just few weeks, $5,000 was given to the city, with the remaining funds given to Arsenault’s family to offset funeral costs.
The $5,000 gift to the city sparked a larger effort, and $30,000 from the Cornelia Warren Community Association has now turned into $75,000.
On Monday, the Westbrook City Council approved the additional funding, which also includes $30,000 from the Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corp., and $10,000 from the Westbrook Recreation & Conservation Commission. ($30,000 was also already approved in the city’s capital improvement plan).
City Administrator Jerre Bryant urged councilors to go down to the courts soon, in order to get “a before picture” at the site. The courts, situated behind the Warren Community Pool, have faded and peeling surfaces, non-working lights and ripped nets.
“In mid-August, when we dedicate these new courts, you will be incredibly impressed with the product,” he said. “This project grew from a maintenance item in the capital improvement program – the catalyst being a horrible tragedy – but it was the fundraising for Arsenault that sort of crystalized a group of Westbrook businesses and residents who really wanted to see something special happen down here.”
Arsenault’s mother, Nancy Laxson, told the American Journal last year that after graduating, her son used to travel to Westbrook from Scarborough to play at the courts with his friends.
“I’m truly honored and I know Trey would be grateful of the community coming together,” she said about the project.
Councilor Michael Foley thanked both the Cornelia Warren association and Maria Dorn and Greg Post from Westbrook Community Services.
“They took what was once a small project and leveraged several funding opportunities to expand the scope of it tremendously,” he said.
“The Warren name cuts a wide path in this community,” said Councilor John O’Hara, referencing the funds coming from the Cornelia Warren association. “Once again, we’re very thankful.”
“They’re definitely a tremendous asset to have in the community,” added Foley.
Also closely involved was School Committee member Suzanne Joyce, whose son, Collin Joyce, was close friends with Arsenault.
Arsenault died after he was shot at Da Block Studios, on the corner of Fore and Market streets in downtown Portland, last May. Since then, two men – Johnny Ouch and Gang Deng Majok – have been charged with murder and are awaiting trial. Both have pleaded not guilty.
In other City Council action, the $60 million fiscal year 2016-17 combined municipal and school budget was approved during a final reading. The $35.1 million school budget will head to voters during a budget validation referendum on Tuesday, June 14.
The council also accepted $20,000 in grant funding from the Cornelia Warren Community Association toward new lighting, a sun and wind screen and a utility building at the Westbrook High School tennis courts. The grant is part of matching funds that the city spent on resurfacing the courts last year.
Mayor Colleen Hilton said the city is working on “a larger thank-you” to the Cornelia Warren Community Association for all of its recent projects benefiting the city.
A small city project to resurface the basketball courts at Fraser Field in Westbrook has grown into a $150,000 upgrade project. Westbrook High School graduate Treyjon Arsenault, who was killed last year, frequented the courts.
Trey Arsenault was a multi-sport athlete at Westbrook High School, where he graduated in 2014.
Derek Breunig lets go a shot at the Fraser Field basketball court last year, soon after raising more than $10,000 in Trey Arsenault’s name. The fundraiser sparked a larger community effort to rehab the aging courts.