A poplar tree grows through the surface of the Morinville tennis courts. Council will be looking at some alternative options to providing tennis facilities this year using $120,000 in funding approved in this year’s budget. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Town’s deteriorating tennis courts, located at 100 Avenue and 101 Street, could be ripped up and replaced with new ones at Bob Foster Park or another location in town. The courts were approved for $120,000 worth of refurbishing in the 2013 budget; however, the Sturgeon School Division who now own the land the courts sit on have put forth a few conditions that would extend the costs beyond what was allotted for the project this year.
Council’s approval of $120,000 included monies to remove the poplar trees surrounding the tennis court, install a root barrier and treatment to prevent new growth eventually lifting the courts, and funding for rehabilitating the existing court area to re-create three usable tennis surfaces. The allotted budget did not include replacing the poplars, landscaping, picnic tables and benches, or developing a flexible-use court.
Though Sturgeon School Division, who took over the property when the former Georges P. Vanier School was transferred to the division last summer, is supportive of the Town continuing to operate the courts, they have requested the agreement include the development of two tennis courts and one flexible-use court and the replacement of trees this year.
The uncertainty of the situation prompted Council to ask Administration to come back with costs for building two shale tennis courts with fencing and some ideas about just where they could be located.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein was the first to raise the matter of continuing to run tennis courts on property the Town does not actually own. “I’m not in favour of it,” she said. “We do not own the land. It would be different if they [Sturgeon School Division] came back and offered a 99-year lease. We’re going in blind and I’m not sure that’s a smart move on our behalf.”
Deputy Mayor Holmes was in agreement. “I’d like to see us cut out losses there and move on to our own location,” she said.
Mayor Paul Krauskopf suggested tennis courts could be established at the Bob Foster Park area where the ball diamonds and skate park currently reside. “I think we have to be a little more aggressive,” the mayor said regarding the existing location, adding the Town should take the fence down, tear up the courts and reseed the property, leaving the existing trees where they are. “We need to be aggressive. We’ve been dodging this thing for years. Lets do something.”
Administration will return to Council with hard costs on establishing a couple shale courts as early as this year, courts that would continue to exist after hard surface courts were built down the road, possibly in connection with a multi-use recreation facility.
The recently finalized Regional Recreation Facility Master Plan identified tennis as a lower priority for Morinville but identified the existing courts as being unusable. Roots from the surrounding poplar trees have broken through the tennis court surface, creating tripping hazards and rendering the courts unusable.
The existing tennis courts have been a Town-owned facility existing on school division property since 1982.