The Washington Park Board decided to continue looking into the possibility of converting tennis courts at the fairgrounds into basketball courts.
At Thursday’s administration/operations meeting, the board addressed a recent letter from the Franklin County Community Tennis Association.
During the March meeting, the park board instructed Parks and Recreation Director Darren Dunkle to look into how much it would cost to transform the courts at Bernie E. Hillermann Park into basketball courts.
The surface of the tennis courts is in bad shape and needs repairs. Dunkle told the park board in March, and repeated on Thursday night, it could cost as much as $160,000 to completely replace the surface.
With the high cost and a tight budget, the park board asked Dunkle to look into the costs associated with a basketball court. If it would be cheaper to pave the facility and install basketball hoops, the board said a conversion might be the best option.
In a letter, the FCCTA urged the board to reconsider. The FCCTA said the tennis courts at Phoenix Park are heavily used and would face more of a burden if the other option in town was removed.
The letter said parking lots, churches and schools all offer basketball facilities while there are only two places to play tennis in Washington.
Dunkle said the parks department has basketball hoops at Optimist Park and at the fairgrounds, but both are just on concrete slabs.
The board agreed there are other facilities in town, but most are in parking lots or private property.
One of the reasons the board wanted to look into the switch is for a place to host a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Board member Bob Kloeppel said there’s currently not a place in Washington for tournaments.
The FCCTA asked the board to repair and maintain the courts as tennis courts.
Sparky Stuckenschneider asked if Dunkle knew how many people actually used the fairgrounds courts.
“My feeling is, we could spend $100,000 making them new tennis courts,” Stuckenschneider said. “But unless use can be proven, I’m not in favor of spending $100,000. There’s other things I would rather spend that money on.”
Dunkle told the board it wouldn’t necessarily save money by switching to basketball. The surface is cracked and needs to be repaired or replaced.
Dunkle said the surface could soon deteriorate so much it’s no longer safe.
“If we have basketball or tennis, it costs the same to repair the surface,” Dunkle said.
The high-end total replacement would be close to $160,000. At the low-end, a process to fill the cracks and make minor fixes could cost $75,000.
To add basketball goals, Dunkle said it could cost as much as $12,000.
Where the savings could come in, however, is surfacing the courts in a different fashion. Tennis courts are different from basketball and a surface like asphalt would work for one but not the other.
The board didn’t reject the idea of keeping the tennis courts, but instructed Dunkle to explore all the options to fix the broken courts. Dunkle was told to see how much it would cost for an asphalt, or some other material, surface.
The board agreed something had to be done, and soon, with the cracking courts becoming dangerous. Dunkle said he will try and seek funds for the project in the budget for next year.