By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport City Council again rejected plans to build more tennis courts in the city.
By a 3-2 vote, council defeated legislation to contract with a company to engineer, design, and estimate costs for the possible construction of five new tennis courts in Groveport Park. Council members Ed Dildine, Becky Hutson, and Shawn Cleary voted against the ordinance while Jean Ann Hilbert and Scott Lockett were in favor of it.
The legislation arose after council previously rejected building two additional tennis courts in Degenhart Park. Currently Degenhart Park, located at the southern ends of Lesleh Avenue and Madison Street, has three existing lighted tennis courts.
Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall said the total cost estimate for the rejected two additional courts at Degenhart Park was: with lights, $293,287; without lights $218,287. An additional $30,000 would have been needed to move a sewer line to accommodate the new courts.
At council’s March committee meeting, Hall said the cost estimate to build the five new tennis courts in Groveport Park could be between $800,000 to $850,000.
City Engineer Steve Farst said the cost to design and engineer the courts could be 10 to 15 percent of the construction cost, or around $80,000.
The proposed five new tennis courts would also have included striping for 10 pickleball courts that would fit within the tennis courts.
Hilbert was disappointed in the defeat of the proposed five new tennis courts.
“I don’t know how you can isolate one recreation group from the rest in the city,” said Hilbert after the April 9 council meeting. “This action is saying that tennis and pickleball players are not worth it. I don’t understand why we wouldn’t at least do the engineering to see how and where the tennis courts could fit.”
Dildine said he looked at the issue objectively. He said he contacted state officials about potential grant funding for the tennis courts and was told there are community capital project grants that could be pursued that require a 50 percent local match in funding. He said such a grant could include the tennis/pickleball courts plus other recreational improvements to Groveport Park that are part of the city’s Master Parks Plan.
“If we do it, I’d like to do a bigger project that is part of our Master Parks Plan and pursue outside grant funding,” said Dildine. “I’d also rather talk about it at budget time and not in the middle of the fiscal year.”
He said in his opinion the cost for the proposed five tennis courts was “too much.”
“Approximately $1 million is not a drop in the bucket,” said Dildine. “We have projects down the road that will need funding.”
Hutson said more time is needed before pursuing the additional tennis courts, stating obtaining grant funding is important and that she’d like more citizen input.
Cleary said he’d like to wait until the construction debt for the city’s recreation center is paid off in the near future before considering more large parks projects.
“Once the debt is paid off we can re-evaluate,” said Cleary.
Lockett remained optimistic.
“This isn’t going away,” said Lockett. “I’m glad council is willing to reconsider it later. Making the tennis/pickleball courts part of a larger project within the Master Parks Plan could be the route we take down the road.”