By Rick Palsgrove
An effort to build two additional tennis courts in Degenhart Park was rejected by Groveport City Council, but the idea for more tennis courts in town is not dead.
At its Feb. 26 meeting, council voted 3-3 on the proposed ordinance to build the courts with council members Jean Ann Hilbert, Scott Lockett, and Marvin Stevens voting in favor and Shawn Cleary, Ed Dildine, and Becky Hutson opposing. The deadlocked vote meant Mayor Lance Westcamp would have to cast the deciding vote. However, Westcamp abstained, which meant the ordinance failed because it did not receive the necessary four votes for passage.
Westcamp said he abstained because he and his wife own property on Green Avenue that would be adjacent to where the two new courts would have been constructed.
“For that reason I must abstain because it would be inappropriate for me to vote on a matter that could possibly affect or impact my property in some way,” said Westcamp.
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 proposed two additional courts 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.
In response to the failure of the idea of adding two tennis courts in Degenhart Park, Hilbert said she will sponsor an ordinance to build five new tennis courts in Groveport Park with the hopes they could be built by the end of 2018.
Hilbert said she is not giving up, adding, “I’ve been working on getting more tennis courts for eight years. We’ve provided for other recreational outlets like soccer, softball, golf, the recreation center, and the aquatic center, but we still only have three tennis courts and you need five for team matches. We need to meet the needs of our recreational tennis groups.”
Hall said in 2010 it was estimated it could cost $612,500 to build five new tennis courts in Groveport Park, a figure that would be higher in 2018 numbers.
Dildine said he did not like the idea of more tennis courts in a neighborhood park like Degenhart Park. But he also said he does not like saying “no” without having alternatives. He mentioned the city could pursue recreational grant funding for tennis courts though the United States Tennis Association, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Department of the Interior. He also said he believes Groveport Madison Schools would be willing to share with the city their five new tennis courts to be built at the new high school.
“I’m more than willing to find alternate funding for tennis courts as well as other recreational facilities that are included in the Master Parks Plan for Groveport Park,” said Dildine.
Council could hear the first reading of the ordinance to build five new tennis courts in Groveport Park at its March 12 meeting.