ROXBURY, NJ – They’ve been unused, overgrown and crumbling eyesores for years, but soon the former tennis courts between Lincoln-Roosevelt School and Franklin School in Succasunna will be removed and replaced with pavilions for outdoor classrooms and other uses.

The Roxbury school board, on Monday, approved spending $1.4 million for site preparation and installation of the pavilions. The money will come from the district’s capital reserve account and the work will be done by Ben Shaffer Recreation of Jefferson.

“There are basically going to be two pavilion-like structures,” said Roxbury Schools Business Administrator Joseph Mondanaro. He said the open-sided shelters will be about 50 feet wide by about 100 feet long and likely will be divided with walls to create four classrooms.

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The proposed new use for the old tennis courts was recommended by a committee of district “administrators, teachers, principals and various stakeholders who are going sit down and tweak the design,” Mondanaro said.

Seen Better Days

The site, along Meeker Street across from the First Presbyterian Churchy Cemetery, has not seen tennis games for tennis for at least a decade. It is surrounded by rusted, chain-link fence that is broken or collapsed in some areas. The asphalt court surfaces are warped, cracked and sprouting plants. The overhead lights haven’t worked in years. Weeds and litter abound.

It wasn’t always that way; Mondanaro said he “gained some insight” about the tennis courts’ past from some nearby residents.

“They came over to us when we at the site couple weeks ago and said they lived there for more than 30 years,” he said. “They told us that, 30 years ago, the Meeker Street courts site was like a tennis club. That’s how widely used it was.”

The rundown state of the site irks some Roxbury residents and Mondanaro said he too has long been hoping something could be done. “I’ve been here a little over three years, and that place has been a thorn in my side,” he said.

Mondanaro noted he comes from a more urban environment. “In the city, we don’t have space like Roxbury has space,” Mondanaro said, adding it bothered him to “see that space not being used.”

Plans for the site include running new electric service and having “some type of trailer-type bathrooms” there. Also being discussed is a minor upgrade to the adjacent basketball courts, Mondanaro said.

The new pavilions will serve the community in ways beyond outdoor instruction. “We are thinking about renting it out, the same as we do any of our facilities,” Mondanaro said.

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