01/28/14 Members of the Tennis Committee, Sarah Guild Smith, Betsy Gee Biederstede and Dawn Edwards Everidge presented information on a news tennis complex during Monday evening’s Common Council meeting. Their hour long presentation and question and answer period ended on a positive note as the Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of future funding for the construction of new tennis courts.
The trio gave a brief history of the current courts which were built in 1973. Over the years they have had major maintenance projects in 1986, 1989, 2002, 2005, and 2011. It was also noted that new lights were installed in ’88 and ’90. Smith said, “Where they (tennis courts) are sitting now and with what’s going on underneath, they need to be replaced.”
The women discussed users of the tennis courts, noting they are always open to the general public. Last summer there were 190 in the summer lesson program and 60 in summer leagues. In a unique partnership the courts are also used by the PHS Boys and Girls Tennis Teams and both PHS and Lincoln Junior High students use the courts in P.E. classes.
Dawn Everidge talked about the economic impact the tennis courts can provide. She commented that the amenities in the parks are used to attract people to our city. She said real estate agents actually will drive people through the parks when they are considering moving to the community. Having public tennis courts will also allow for the hosting of tournaments that will bring tennis players and their families to the community and more likely than not they will stop and shop.
Looking at the financial side of things, it was brought to the councils attention that the Tennis Club started in the mid 70’s providing income to the park to help pay for maintenance and supplies for the courts.
Site determination was also discussed and the girls said they looked at the various park properties. Several locations were looked at but flipping the current courts to the north appeared to be the very best solution.
Although there was a full house for the meeting, only a few comments and questions were asked.
Jim Kunze, head of the “Hot Air Affair” or the hot air balloons at the Blueberry Festival expressed his concerns on the location noting that hosting a balloon glow in the new area would be almost impossible. He also commented on the summer pickup soccer games played in the field.
Duane Bender from the Hoosier Old Wheels asked why the need for a new parking lot instead of using the existing one. He commented that 10,000 people were at the Blueberry Car Show in 2013.
Another man asked is the committee had considered putting new courts on school property. The committee said maintenance on two separate tennis facilities would be wasting tax money.
At the conclusion of their presentation, City Council members unanimously approve a resolution in support of the future funding for construction of the new tennis courts. Recognizing the need and benefits of having tennis courts in the community, and seeing that the committee is seeking funding from both private and public sources, the council approved committing $750,000 to the project. It was noted that the money would not be appropriated until the remaining project budget was raised. It was hoped that this leading commitment by the City will serve as a challenge to other interested stakeholders.