The Washington Parks Department will likely move forward with plans to halve the number of tennis courts at Optimist Park and add four new courts at Phoenix Park.
Parks Director Josh Pedersen said following meetings this week with the Optimist Club and the Franklin County Community Tennis Association, both organizations seemed in favor of the department’s plan.
“Everyone seemed to think the road we are on is a good one,” Pedersen said.
Two of the existing four courts at Optimist Park would be turned into a skateboard park.
“We had money there in the half-cent sales tax for building a skateboarding park,” he said. “We’ve been looking and looking for sites, but someone had the idea of what if we put the park down at the Optimist Park area on our current tennis courts.
“We can convert some of those courts into a skate park area with a fence between the skate area and the courts,” Pedersen said.
A local skate park has been asked for by local enthusiasts for years, and resurfaced in force following tighter restrictions on skateboarding on public and private property which the city enacted in 2006.
The department also plans to add four new courts at Phoenix Park.
“We thought if we were going to lose some courts, we should replace them, so we’re looking to build a new facility,” Pedersen said.
“That would help develop that park. On its own there’s a walking trail, which is good for a lot of people, but it doesn’t have the draw that it could,” he said.
Pedersen said putting the skate park at an existing facility would save money.
“We wouldn’t have to do any land acquisition or hard surface the area, add lighting or fencing,” he said. “We’d be saving a tremendous amount of money and that’d free up quite a bit of it to do both these projects.”
The department also will seek grants from various skateboarding and tennis organizations for the projects.
“We’re looking at a combination of different things and hopefully everyone will be happy,” Pedersen said.
Members of the tennis association a year ago expressed concerns that repairs were needed at the courts, but frequent rain delayed repairing cracks and addressing drainage problems.
The projects will be the next large-scale improvement for the parks department.
“It’s probably our No. 1 project we’re looking to accomplish in the next 12 months,” Pedersen said.
Other future park improvements could include parking lot work at Lakeview Park and the football field area.
A new restroom on the northside of Lions Lake also is planned.
A restroom facility could be added to Phoenix Park as well.
“We’d probably want to tie that into the construction of the tennis courts,” Pedersen said.
“We want to phase these projects in. If you start talking about three or four projects like that, that are all sizable, you see it’s tough to do it all right away,” he said. “There’s a lot of background work involved and we have to space these all out over the period of time in which the money is available.”
New projects also involve a long-term commitment of manpower for maintenance, Pedersen said.
“That’s the primary thing we get complaints on is when maintenance is overlooked. We don’t want to have that happen,” he said.