A second chance for tennis courts
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Aug 14, 2009  |  Vote 0    0

A second chance for tennis courts

Stratford Gazette

Tori SuttonStaff ReporterIt might not be game over for the Water Street tennis courts.A new chapter in the fight to save the courts began this week after city council agreed to refer the matter back to subcommittee for further consideration.While sitting as the community services committee at Monday's meeting, council agreed to hold off on making a decision after hearing a citizen's presentation.Stratford resident John Erb urged council to allow him the chance to investigate alternative funding options to rehabilitate the crumbling courts and bring the information back to subcommittee."I'd like to make a presentation at subcommittee and at that time present a plan I am developing involving sponsors, as well as service clubs, to fund the court and to at least bring it up to useable standards," Erb told council.He said many people in the city have great memories of the courts, a place where many have learned to play the sport, including athletes who have gone to compete with success at the secondary school level.Though the courts have been locked since a light standard fell several months ago, he said youth continued to crawl under the fence to play until the nets were finally removed. "This court is special," Erb said.Last month, the community services subcommittee recommended the courts be permanently closed and the area turned into parkland.Upgrades to the courts are pegged at $70,000. Coun. Keith Culliton suggested the site would be perfect for an apartment building, though he acknowledged he would not be able to find enough support from council to approve such a development.He asked how busy the Water Street courts are and how often the other courts in the city are in use.Coun. Paul Nickel, chair of the community services committee, said it's hard to gauge the popularity of the Water Street courts as they have been locked for some time.He agreed it was prudent for his subcommittee to take a second look at the issue."Upon reflection, I agree with Mr. Erb that this should be coming back to subcommittee," Nickel said.Coun. George Brown asked how much it would cost to demolish the court and turn the area into a parkland. He said he didn't feel another garden was needed and instead suggested sand be put in to create a beach volleyball court.On July 24, local youths took to the street to protest the closure, led by 15-year-old Northwestern student Aaron Graver. A petition is being circulated and a Facebook group, called Help us save the Water Street tennis courts, has grown to nearly 200 members.

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