By Sue Ellen Woodcock
After four meetings regarding the future of the tennis courts at the new high school on Main Street, the Town Council voted to save them for now until further study of the parking situation can be done.
Technically, the Town Council voted to remove the tennis court project from the Miller Field override project. The Miller Field override vote approved the spending of $9.8 million for a new football/multi-sport field, bleachers, track and other related projects.
There was a lot of confusion as to what the council was doing at their meeting on Tuesday night.
What will happen to the tennis courts? Will they be demolished to expand parking? Is more parking really needed? Can the courts be refurbished? How much will it cost? And will it be done before the tennis season begins in a few weeks?
Initially, after a report on parking in the area of the high school, from the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee (TASC), it was proposed to tear down the courts and move them to Ingleside Park. So the Town began building two new courts at Ingleside, but town tennis buffs said it would be difficult to play in the park. Those courts will be completed for roughly $500,000.
Tuesday night Councilor Phil Boncore submitted a motion to re-locate the existing tennis to a undetermined future site. He shared three quotes on having the tennis courts refurbished, with cracks filled and lines painted. All of the quotes were in the range of $23,000. Councilor Russ Sanford called to remove the demolition of the courts from the Miller Field override project.
“We’re trying to accomplish the same thing,” Sanford said.
Boys tennis coach Marie Finn told the council how the MIAA was holding basketball tournaments at the high school. With the gym at full capacity she found at least 60 parkings spaces available.
John Vitagliano, a former Boston Transportation Commissioner and resident, said he opposed taking the courts from Main Street. He identified two other parking areas on Cross Street between River Road and the Winthrop golf Club.
“The parking has to be studied but we don’t need a parking lot at this time,” said Councilor Heather Engman.
Councilor James Letterie expressed concern for head-in parking at the high school tennis courts. He said there are 10,000 instances per year of people hitting the gas instead of the brake.
At the meeting it also came out that some high school students have received $100 parking tickets for blocking cars in and other violations. Police Chief Terence Delehanty said he received calls over the weekend and charged the tickets to warnings. However, after a week of warnings, he said, future violations will have tickets.
Tennis coaches know this season will be busy this season since the program is now as large as ever with 31 girls signed up and 25 boys.
“I’m open to leave the courts until we do more study,” said Councilor Linda Calla. “We need to do more homework.”
By taking the demolition of the courts off the Miller Field project, the Town will be able to see a full year operation of parking in the area. Miller Field is slated to hold the annual Thanksgiving football game against Revere. Baseball season starts soon and the Town will be able to see how parking for multiple events unfolds.
Now the council will have to work out the costs of refurbishing the courts and the logistics of getting it done when season tennis begins in a few weeks.