Tennis Court Decision Still in Limbo

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

It wasn’t the outcome that many residents who were at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting were expecting but proponents of saving the tennis courts at the high school on Main Street will have to wait until the next Town Council meeting on March 7.

The tennis courts were on the agenda, but the submission of two motions and the desire to have more information prompted Town Council President Robert Driscoll Jr. to push to hold off.

Councilor Phil Boncore submitted a motion calling for a one year moratorium on making a decision to relocate the existing tennis courts from the current high school to Ingleside Park.

Councilor Russ Sanford submitted a motion calling for the “council to remove the demolition of the Winthrop High School tennis courts at 400 Main St. and construction of a parking lot in their place be removed from the scope of work of the Miller Field project, until such time as needed for such parking facilities at that location can be studied and the Council votes to reinstate such demolition and construction work; or take any other action.”

Sanford believes that another traffic study may be needed which includes parking and traffic.

The two motions are similar, but Boncore said his motion “puts it to bed. I don’t see a lack of space for parking.”

“It gives us the opportunity to see the effects based on existing conditions without Miller Field being fully developed,” Sanford said of his motion.

He added that there should be no demolition and the tennis courts should be refurbished including new fencing, nets and striping.

The cost of doing this is estimated at $400,000 said Town Manager James McKenna, based on a quote from the town’s engineering company, Woodward and Curran. That is a similar cost for constructing the tennis courts at Ingleside Park, which is already underway. Boncore said he was thinking facelift for $100,000. Someone else said the cost to do a court was $15,000 each.

Professional tennis player Erica Bueno quickly estimated $5,000 to resurface the courts, $200-$500 for nets and $10,000 for fencing.

“We’re talking much less money,” she said, offering to teach kids and help fundraise for funding.

Two weeks ago the council held a public hearing where about 75 people attended. It was held in response to a 500-signature petition submitted to the council.

Town officials had proposed tearing down the courts to make more parking available in the area of the new $82 million high school.

Former Council President Peter Gill said that he didn’t want to see the tennis courts demolished.

Construction has started with plans to finish two new tennis courts at Ingleside Park, even though tennis players in Town have said it is more of a playground than a place to play tennis. Even Marie Finn, the high school boys tennis coach said the game requires concentration not playground commotion. There are 45 students in WHS boys and girls tennis.

The tennis courts at the high school are grandfathered under the MIAA rules. If they are demolished and rebuilt they would have to meet the guidelines.

Finn suggested the Town keep the tennis courts at the high school, play through the upcoming season and then refurbish the courts. One man suggested using the parking lot money to pay for the refurbishment.

After hearing several dollar figures, Councilor Paul Varone said he wanted to put off the vote until they had a better handle on the details and he wanted more input from the Finance Committee.

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