Before finalizing a budget, the Washington Park Board will meet Thursday night to brainstorm ideas.

With the parks department budget process set to begin soon, the board will have an administration/operations meeting at 6 p.m. in the lower level of the main stage.

During the April 3 park board meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Darren Dunkle instructed the board to brainstorm ideas for the budget. He said as he works to prepare the budget, he would like ideas for projects.

Dunkle said the projects could be new or ones discussed at previous meetings that haven’t been included on any budget before.

“That way we can have it on our recommendation to the committee of what we would like to see in our budget,” Dunkle said.

A list of items from last year that didn’t make the cut is already compiled, Dunkle said. He encouraged everyone to come to the workshop with ideas.

Originally the board wasn’t going to have an administration/operations meeting in April. However, they realized they needed to start talking about the budget in a workshop and before Dunkle got too deep into making plans.

“If you wait until late May, we’re already going to be into the budget process,” Dunkle said.

By meeting Thursday, Dunkle should have plenty of time to get the board’s recommendations before beginning the budget process next month.

Tennis Courts

In addition to discussing the budget, Thursday’s meeting will address a recent letter from the Franklin County Community Tennis Association.

During the March park board administration/operations meeting, the board discussed exploring the possibility of converting the tennis courts at the fairgrounds into basketball courts.

The FCCTA urged the board to abandon the plan and repair the tennis courts.

With the addition of courts at Phoenix Park and no outdoor basketball courts in town, the park board instructed Dunkle to see if it would be possible to convert the tennis courts near the fairgrounds at Bernie E. Hillermann Park.

Dunkle said the tennis courts are in need of repairs. He said he’s been looking at grants to repair the surface.

Instead of limiting the search to just tennis courts, the board suggested Dunkle see what would it cost to make multiple basketball courts instead.

Dunkle was instructed to seek funding because the cost to fix the courts is high. Based on estimates from a contractor, Dunkle said a low-end “Band-Aid” fix would cost about $25,000.

On the high end, a complete overhaul could cost $100,000.

Because of the high cost, the board told Dunkle to research and see if it would be cheaper to make basketball courts.

The FCCTA letter said eliminating the fairground courts would mean more people at the busy Phoenix Park courts. The letter said there are plenty of basketball courts in town.