By Sue Ellen Woodcock
The tennis courts at the high school may get a reprieve if the Town Council votes for a one-year moratorium and takes note of the parking situation during various activities in the area around the new high school and the soon to be new Miller Field.
“The high school tennis courts have really caused a split in the community,” Driscoll said.
Monday night the Town Council held a public hearing in the high school auditorium on the tennis courts and parking. Right up front, Council President Robert Driscoll stated that the council would not be voting on the issue until the next council meeting.
Between 75 and 100 people, with opinions on both sides of the issue were well represented, many had signed a 500 name petition to save the four courts.
Driscoll mentioned at least twice that the issue of parking and the tennis courts has been going on for the last 10 months, yet it seemed people were not aware of the work.
In anticipation of demolishing and moving the courts, construction crews had begun construction of new courts at Ingleside Park, six-tenths of a mile from the high school. The project for the new court already has about $150,000 invested and there is a total budget of $550,000. The funding comes from the $9.8 million override for Miller Field. No matter what happens at the high school, the project at Ingleside will be completed, said Councillor James Letteire.
Two courts already exist in the park.
Marie Finn, the WHS boys tennis coach with 45 players, said Ingleside Park is a playground and not conducive to playing tennis. She noted that the team was 12-5 this year, the most wins in Winthrop tennis history.
Professional tennis player Erica Bueno plays on the new England Tennis Team, she agreed it was hard to play at Ingleside Park.
“It looks like a band aid at the expense of the whole tennis program,” she said.
Resident Jude Garufo suggested a combination parking area structure with tennis courts on top at the High School site.
“I’m concerned because I see what happens (with parking) everyday,” said Nancy Williams, director of the Council on Aging, who noted the heavy traffic when school starts or is dismissed and parking situation at the Ft. Banks School.
There were several objections to using Ingleside Park. Tennis players said the park was not a good place to play because of the noise, the skate park and children playing on the courts. There are no bathrooms, the courts are often full, and there was a drainage issue but the new construction has addressed that last concern.
During the meeting parking officer Mike DiLuiso gave a presentation showing the parking situations and scenarios and according to Traffic and Safety Commission it appears there is a deficit of 50 cars. When considering parking they looked at the school, golf course, senior center, the immediate neighbors, baseball games, Miller Field and winter parking for residents in the Highlands area.
“I don’t believe we need additional parking,” said Councilor Phil Boncore.
Councilor Russ Sanborn is the one who suggested the one year moratorium.
“Revisit in a year and you gain two courts at Ingleside,” Sanborn said.