When the news of the possible closure of the Price City tennis courts at the end of October spread to the tennis players in the community, they took action. Carbon High School tennis players, community tennis players, family, friends and other concerned parties crammed into the Price City Council chambers last week to let the council know their thoughts on the issue.
At the meeting's end, a committee to save the tennis courts came up with a plan to work closely with Price City as well as bringing a number of entities within the city and the county together to look at ways as to what could be done with the current tennis courts in the immediate future and how things could play out on a long-term basis.
Robert Richens, a member of the committee to save the tennis courts, said after the council meeting that progress was being made on the issue and he was "confident everyone will come together to work on this."
But, as with many projects the city works on, there are other factors involved.
The city's Wave Pool complex has seen plenty of use during its years of service to the community. Over the course of a year, many families and their children visit the Wave Pool complex whether it's in the spring or in the winter. With the addition of the bubble, which is placed over the Wave Pool starting in the fall through the latter part of spring, the city has been able to keep the pool open to the community for use.
However, as time has gone by, the current bubble which has been in use for many years is in need of replacing, according to Bret Cammans, Price City customer services director. Cammans said the current bubble has a shelf life of about two more years before the city would need to purchase a new one. With that knowledge in mind, the city has looked into possible plans for a structure to be built around the Wave Pool, which would eliminate the need for a bubble altogether. Replacing the bubble could cost the city up to $200,000.
In March the city council gave a green light for an architectural firm to look into possible designs for a new leisure pool at the Wave Pool complex. With more and more swimmers using the indoor pool, some swimmers have inquired about the possibility of building another pool to accommodate swimmers who use the lap pool because they don't like the waves generated by the Wave Pool. The new pool would be a leisure pool which would accommodate families and their children and would provide another option for people using the Wave Pool facilities.
"We would like to build a structure for the Wave Pool complex for the long-term," Cammans explained noting the costs the city incurs with the bubble and heating costs during the cold weather months of the year.
Many of those in attendance at the city council meeting were in support of keeping the tennis courts open for at least a few more years. One of the reasons the committee wants to keep them open to the public is to allow more time for the Carbon School District to continue working on a master plan which would possibly include the building of a tennis complex, complete with lights, near the high school baseball field. However, that master plan is still in its infancy, according to Jeff Richens, a board member with Carbon School District.
If things were to stay the same now and the courts were to stay open, the city would continue to put money towards the tennis courts for annual maintenance, improving the courts to satisfy safety concerns and continuing to provide a place for tennis players in the community to use. Over the years the city has kept up the tennis courts by resurfacing them every five to 10 years, according to Gary Sonntag, Price City Public Works director. With the wear and tear from weather, especially snow, cracks, holes and other problems have arisen. The city has spent around $6,000 for quick repairs to the courts for filling in existing cracks, much like how a road is fixed with crack sealing. Adding up the total costs for repairs and maintenance for the six tennis courts, Sonntag estimated the city has spent about $100,000 over a period of several years.
Despite the costs, one of the main reasons for closing down the courts is based upon the safety of people using the courts, Sonntag said.
"We don't want to wait to build new courts until after someone has an accident," he explained.
While some of the talk at the meeting focused upon bringing entities together including Price City Council and city staff, Carbon County, Carbon School District, USU Eastern, Carbon Recreation and many others, up to this point there have been no takers to help fund the repairs and maintenance for the current courts or to work on building new courts in the area, Sonntag said.
"Do we want tennis here? Yes we do," Councilwoman Jeanne McEvoy said noting the current courts are not viable for the long-term in their present condition. "We want tennis here but not at any cost to the health or safety of someone."
The possible funding options to fix the new courts could run into a few snags too. Some on the city council said they are reluctant to put forth a large sum of city funds for the current courts if new courts were to be built somewhere else, such as in a possible master plan with the school district.
"I don't want to throw a lot of money at something that could be relocated at a later time," said Councilwoman Kathy Hanna-Smith.
Richens said the tennis court committee's hope is for everyone to come together to support saving the tennis courts, while looking at all of the possible long-term options.
With their close proximity to USU Eastern, Washington Park, Carbon High School and local neighborhoods, the current location of the courts offers a centralized point in the city that doesn't require many who use them to travel far distances. Building tennis courts near the Carbon High baseball field, or possibly somewhere else in the city limits, would change that central point that many cite as a positive for the current location.
If the tennis courts were to be taken down, Mayor Joe Piccolo said the city would make sure some form of recreation would be placed in the area, such as an expansion to the Wave Pool.
While the term "recreation center" has not be used by city officials, the proposed project to expand the Wave Pool would see the area, including Washington Park, turn into something similar to a recreation center for the city. The proposed project would include the new leisure pool, two basketball courts, two tennis courts and more parking spaces.
Piccolo and the city council supported the committee's request to review the proposed move to shut down the courts at the end of October.
While the council requested that the project not exceed a period of five years and not add significant costs to the city's budget, Councilman Richard Tatton also requested the committee get letters from interested entities that would help fund the project to keep the courts open.
The committee will work closely with the city during the 30-day period, with Councilman Jeff Nielson acting as liaison between the committee and the city council. The council is looking to discuss the proposed plan at the council meeting on Sept. 28.