$40K grant comes through for new basketball courts in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers: Ron Albertson, second from left, announces that the James and Juli Boeheim Foundation have approved $40,000 towards new basketball courts at Bullard Park. Albertson shared the news during the Rock the Park – Albion Summer Music Festival on Saturday. He is joined on the amphitheater stage by Zack Burgess, left, and Nyla Gaylord from the Orleans County United Way, Susan Oschmann from the Bounce for Bullard Committee, Syracuse University Hall of Famer Roosevelt Bouie who is on the Bounce for Bullard Committee, and Tim McMurray, a Village of Albion trustee on the Bounce for Bullard Committee.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 August 2022 at 10:04 pm

ALBION – In early spring it was just an idea: building new basketball courts at Bullard Park.

The old court had cracks and heaves. The hoops didn’t even have nets.

Just a few months later, a $40,000 grant has been secured from the James and Juli Boeheim Foundation towards two new full-size courts at Bullard. There have already been several fundraisers, 3-on-3 tournaments and the backing of the Village Board to push for the new courts.

The $40,000 grant was announced on Saturday afternoon during Rock the Park – Albion Summer Music Festival.

Ron Albertson, one of the Rock the Park leaders, said grants have been critical to making improvements at the park a reality. That includes the new splash pad, amphitheater, playground equipment, and a utility building with bathrooms and a pavilion. The village Department of Public Works has also provided in-kind work with utilities and site work.

The basketball courts could be ready next year, said Village Trustee Tim McMurray, who is part of the Bounce for Bullard Committee. Village officials need to see how in-kind services from the village DPW could be used as a local share to help secure more grants. McMurray said he wants to hear from DPW Superintendent Jay Pahura on how the DPW could assist with the project and how it would fit into the DPW schedule.

The Wendel engineering firm did this rendering of the new proposed basketball courts at Bullard Park. They are eyed to be built along Route 31 at the former skate park area.

Albion also is working with the United Way of Orleans County to pursue a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation towards the courts, which could total $150,000 to $200,000.

The $40,000 would likely cover the costs for the courts, but the Bounce for Bullard  would like to have fencing, bleachers, lighting and other amenities with the project.

The village needs to get solid cost estimates on the project, and determine how much in-kind work is needed. But McMurray said he is happy with the progress so far.

The United Way not only assisted Albion in writing the grant to the Boeheim Foundation, it helped Albion set up a non-profit organization, the Greater Albion Community Recreation and Events Corporation, Inc. The organization is better able to apply for grants and has a better chance of receiving funding than a municipality.

These kids get warmed up on Saturday for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Bullard. About 40 kids played in the tournament using three portable basketball hoops.

Roosevelt Bouie, a Kendall graduate and Syracuse University Hall of Famer, also was a key in advocating for the funding from the Boeheim Foundation. Bouie was Boehim’s first star recruit and helped the team to a 100-18 record from 1977-1980. His number 50 has been retired by Syracuse.

Bouie said he learned to play basketball at Bullard as a kid, often with intense pickup games. Bouie was eager to help support the effort for better basketball courts at the park.

His friend Steve Mowers at CRFS connected Bouie to Nyla Gaylord at the United Way, and the organization helped pursue the grant applications and form the non-profit.

“We applied to the Boeheim Foundation and now have the start of a significant project that can really give the community something to be proud of,” Gaylord said. “So, now we are applying to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. So, we are on the move.”