Cowell Gym renovation party Sat.

  • The new tennis and basketball courts at Cowell Gymnasium in Shelburne Falls. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Thursday, October 12, 2017

SHELBURNE — Turning 55 years old, the Cowell Gymnasium’s outdoor tennis/basketball court have just had its “first facelift,” and the town will celebrate the re-opening of the courts with a party on Saturday, Oct. 14, at noon.

The event will include a ribbon-cutting, popcorn, basketball, tennis, hula-hoops and hopscotch games. There will also be a tour of the Cowell Gym and a tour of the West County Food Pantry, in the building’s lower level.

The outdoor courts were first built in 1962, with the construction spearheaded by Edmund Palmeri. At the time, Palmeri was a popular shop teacher and driving instructor at Arms Academy. The work was possible, thanks to a $50,000 state PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities) grant, along with matching funds from Shelburne, with support of annual town meeting voters. Cowell Gym Director Emily Crehan wrote the grant application and the work was done by the Vermont Recreational Surfacing and Fencing Co.

Crehan said the work included digging out the old court, leveling the playing surface and placing a layer of gravel beneath the new top layer. She said new tennis poles were installed and two basketball hoops were lowered, to enable younger children to use the courts. “We now have a full-size regulation basketball court and a full-size tennis court,” she said. The outdoor court is now handicap-accessible, so that wheelchair-users can come in. The court also includes an area painted for hopscotch and for four square children’s games.