On May 14 there was a Wellington Village Council meeting to discuss moving the current tennis center to a different location. Judging from the discussions, it is not clear that this decision is well thought out or cost efficient.
Several alternative sites for the new relocation have been mentioned: 1) behind the Hampton Inn, 2) Stribling Road and Lyons Road, 3) Stribling west of State Road 7 and 4) where the old Boys & Girls Club is presently. The second site was finally selected.
The first site was rejected due to the mayor’s desire to hold it in reserve for a future art center. The mayor also wanted to keep the third site in reserve for a “larger vision.” The fourth site was rejected because it would result in rescheduling and relocation of leagues.
While it is evident that the current facility is in need of long-overdue repair, one must question the cost of building a completely new facility at a different location versus upgrading the current one. A price tag of $5 million was given at the meeting as a projected cost for a new tennis facility. Some council members questioned whether this reflects only the cost of the courts themselves. Other items may not be included. For example, does it include funds for the pro shop, parking, demolishing the current facility, etc?
Other questions arise, such as whether this money comes out of the current budget or if new taxes have to be raised. No budget or cost analyses were presented, so at this point we are pretty much in “trust me” mode.
A petition was collected and presented to the council, signed by approximately 200 players, to remain at the present location and build the new community center on one of the other sites. Building close to the Hampton Inn would make a lot more sense due to its proximity to the mall, convenience of bus transportation and so on. For example, using the center for weddings within walking distance to a hotel would seem to be a significant advantage, not to mention the obvious synergistic advantages of having the community center and art center at a common location.
We are disappointed that the mayor does not see this as a good option. We are also disappointed in his comment that the petition was not 100 percent Wellington residents and was mostly from women’s team tennis. Well, duh? Nonresidents have always been a part of our sporting venues. For tennis in particular, they pay a higher rate than residents to use the facilities, and we are certainly glad to have them join in. And yes, ladies almost always outnumber men in tennis leagues everywhere!
We realize there are many factors and political concerns that go into these decisions, but the residents of Wellington deserve specifics on exactly how much the new community center, art center, tennis facility and other plans are going to cost us, where the funds will come from, and whether there is a better way.
There will be more review of plans at the next council meeting on May 28. Oh, and current tennis players: you might want to ask how much the rates will go up due to building a brand-spanking-new facility!
Ron and Phyllis Field, Wellington