A $206,624 grant will be used to demolish the tennis courts next to Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay and build three ADA-compliant courts with LED lighting and walkways in their place. The courts are seen in Aug. 2019 when HollandStrong Community Foundation began to work on them. Livermore Falls Advertiser file photo

JAY — New tennis courts will be available for students and community members to enjoy thanks to a grant award of $206,624.

The funding comes from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to a Dec. 7 release from Regional School Unit 73, Town of Jay and HollandStrong Community Foundation. The funds will be used to demolish existing obsolete tennis courts and construct three new, ADA-compliant courts in their place along with new LED lights and walkways, the release noted.

“The HollandStrong Community Foundation has been integral in applying for the grants and obtaining additional funds necessary to make this project possible,” the release continued. “News of the award created some confusion around who the recipient of the grant is. When the tennis courts were originally built the property was owned by the Town of Jay and the courts are located next to the Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay. However, the grant will be to RSU 73 and will benefit the students and community members in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls.”

In April, voters in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls approved a $45,000 reserve fund for the HollandStrong tennis courts project with up to that amount being expended as needed. The article was in addition to RSU 73 budget-related articles.

HollandStrong began work on the tennis courts in August 2019.


The Hollandstrong Community Foundation was created in memory of Deb Roberts’ son, Michael Holland who died when the SS El Faro sank on Oct. 1, 2015, near the Bahamas. The foundation has provided scholarships to graduating seniors from three area school districts.

“This is an exciting turning point for the Hollandstrong Community Foundation after several years of painstakingly working towards funding for this project to honor the memory of Michael Holland,” Roberts wrote in a personal Facebook message later Wednesday. “There is still a lot of work to do to secure vendors and materials that will commit to needed in-kind labor and/or materials at a discounted cost to ensure that we are able to meet the full 50% required match.

“We are working with the RSU to draft an RFP [request for proposal] that will go out as soon as we get word from our grant coordinator at the state level that we have the go ahead to do so. We continue to accept cash donations towards this project – every dollar donated is matched 100% by the grant. I’m so looking forward to the day I drive by the spot on Route 4 and see the students and community members of Jay, Livermore, and Livermore Falls taking advantage of the new courts! What a sight that will be for this grieving Mom.”

Mary Redmond-Luce, the girls tennis coach at Spruce Mountain High School thanked Roberts for her efforts in a Dec. 9 email in reply to a request for comment from the Livermore Falls Advertiser. Deb Roberts [Holland] has worked tirelessly for many years to bring tennis courts to not only the students but also the greater RSU 73 community, in honor of her son Mike, Redmond-Luce noted. “Words cannot express how grateful I am for her work,” Redmond-Luce wrote. “My hope is that community members of all ages will play on these courts, as I did growing up in Jay. I spent a lot of time on the tennis courts with my friends and I developed a lifelong love of the sport.”

Spruce Mountain tennis teams have been playing at Kineowatha Park in Wilton for several years.

“Frank Donald, Director has been excellent to us, however, these are not our school courts so practices were limited to in-season playing only,” Redmond-Luce wrote. “With only two courts we could only play a ten-game pro set [shorter game]. Both the boys and girls teams have talked about running after school tennis camps for younger students to generate interest and skill development. These same athletes have asked for summer tennis and we can now do both of these activities.


“Over the past few years we have been very competitive in our division but skill development is hindered by lack of time on courts as well as many of our varsity athletes only learn how to play once they join the team. That is very different from many other varsity sports and it is certainly not what other tennis teams in our division face. I know that this will even the playing field for Spruce Mountain High School.”

Marc Keller, athletic director for SMHS also responded to questions from the Livermore Falls Advertiser regarding the tennis court funding.

“This is going to be a great opportunity to rejuvenate these courts,” Keller wrote in a Dec. 9 email. “This will provide our physical education and athletic programs a tremendous facility that will help students and athletes to learn a new life-long activity. It will hopefully produce a love for a great sport and provide an opportunity for kids and adults to have another recreational offering in our communities.”

When asked about construction start and court availability, Keller responded, “We are in the process of getting bids for the work and materials. The hope is that we will be able to begin construction during early summer of 2023.”

Keller noted he has been the boys tennis coach for the last two years.

“I would like to recognize the work of Deb and Robin Roberts and the HollandStrong Foundation for their tremendous work on helping to make this happen,” Keller added.

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