Vineland High School celebrated its new tennis courts Thursday with a ceremonial ribbon cutting prior to a night match between the Fighting Clan and Bridgeton.
“We have a state-of-the-art facility out there,” said Wayne Weaver, executive director of physical facilities, earlier this month.
The cost of the courts was $684,000. The district allocated $700,000 for the project in the facilities budget, and Vineland was able to cut back on that number by reducing the number of courts from 12 to 10, and putting lighting up for five instead of all 10.
The original courts were constructed in 1964, and the only work done to them since was a resurfacing in 1999, Weaver said.
This project was originally placed in the district’s long range facilities plan in 2005, and the state approved the plan, but Vineland was tired of waiting for funds to come over from the state, especially as safety concerns escalated.
Large cracks had formed on the court’s surface, water runoff had become an issue and the light poles, which had started to lean, caused problems as well.
“We had the fence (surrounding the old courts) energized,” Weaver said. “They said one time it was actually hot, electrically hot because one of the direct barrier lines, it was compromised and ended up energizing one of the poles, which energized the whole fence. … We ended up having to shut breakers off.”
He added later, “I think last year (Vineland athletic director Don Robbins) was telling me if we don’t do something, we’re going to have to shut these courts down from a safety standpoint.”
The new Musco Lighting cost $100,000 of the budget.
As for the drainage issue, the district spent $120,000 for an underground chamber system. Now water won’t stay on the courts, extending the lifetime of the project.
“I’ve been out there during these torrential storms and it’s amazing,” Weaver said. “It just washes down and goes into this underground tank.”
The district estimates the courts, outside of maybe a resurfacing down the road, will be good for at least a few decades.
“We’re talking about $15,000 a year for the next 30-35 years,” Vineland Communications Coordinator John Sbrana said.
And the public is invited to use the courts over that duration. There’s even a button around the courts that allows players to turn on the lights for two hours at a time until 10 p.m.
“It’s something that’s going to take the district into the next 35 years,” Weaver said. “I’m real pleased with the overall project.”