FRANKLIN — Local officials formally thanked the Boston Bruins Foundation Monday night for its financial contribution to a renovated street hockey and basketball court at Fletcher Field.
The event took place in conjunction with the opening of Franklin’s summer street hockey program.
The Recreation Department presented the Boston Bruins with a plaque in appreciation for a $75,000 donation for the installation of the court’s dasher board system. Recreation Director Ryan Jette reached out to Bruins Foundation Executive Director Bob Sweeney for help with the funding.
“Blades,” the Bruins’ mascot, accepted the plaque Monday and participated in a ceremonial puck drop to start of the summer street hockey season. Blades also posed for pictures, gave a round of high-fives, and passed the puck around with young players.
Boar’s Head, a provider of beef, pork and poultry, and Crocetti’s, which specializes in Italian sausage, donated food for Monday’s event, which also featured cornhole games. Mylec Hockey, a Winchendon-based supplier of street hockey equipment, was also on hand.
The court, which can also be used for basketball, was constructed using $200,000 from town capital funding. This type of funding is typically used for building facilities, such as a tennis court, Jette said.
Jette informed the town’s Finance Committee in 2019 that the court was “in really rough shape.” Over the previous five years, he said, the asphalt was cracking and falling apart to “the point where it wasn’t safe.” This made it especially difficult for street hockey, where a smooth surface is crucial to safe play.
The town received funding for the renovations in 2019, but work was delayed due to COVID-19.
“We were very restricted on who we had to do the work,” said Tony Brunetta, assistant highway and grounds superintendent at the Franklin Department of Public Works.
DPW personnel aided in the demolition — which Brunetta said took about two weeks — and with the construction of fencing for the new court. With several other projects in Franklin on the docket, Brunetta said it was a rush to finish but “this was one of the projects we really wanted to get done to give people something to do (during COVID-19).”
Despite the challenges and delays, Jette said the court was finished in July 2020.
Since then, basketball groups and several other residents—including Brunetta, who breaks out his rollerblades and plays every Saturday morning—have played on the newly remodeled court.
“As soon as it got up, you couldn’t get on here (the court) it was so busy … it’s a pleasant experience for everybody,” Brunetta said. “It gives them (kids) a different avenue instead of playing in the streets. You know it’s going to be a safe environment.”
About 116 kids have signed up for the summer street hockey program. Brunetta said sign-ups for several sports programs have tripled.
The renovations “definitely brought the community together,” he said.
The court is open to the general public, but the Recreation Department reserves it during certain times for basketball and street hockey teams.
“It’s (the court) has already been beneficial to the community … we’ll be able to utilize it for our programs as well,” Jette said. “I think it’ll only grow as we come out of the pandemic.”