Cracks keep Sequim High tennis courts closed

Recent efforts to repair two tennis courts at Sequim High School might not be enough to reopen them for play this spring due to unsafe conditions.

Jim Adams

Jim Adams

Recent efforts to repair two tennis courts at Sequim High School might not be enough to reopen them for play this spring due to unsafe conditions.

After maintenance crews placed placed a tennis court repair material in October, cracks and holes remain in the lower courts.

John McAndie, maintenance and operations supervisor, said he’s noticed weeds sprouting through the material despite filling in some areas with two to three coats.

His crewmen haven’t gotten a chance to finish the courts, he said, because their priority has been working on installing a portable at Greywolf Elementary School.

“Any break in the weather has been for that,” he said. “Getting classroom space is a huge priority.”

Once the material is placed, McAndie said he’s not sure how long it’ll last.

“It’s a stopgap measure,” he said. “We’re extending it to its maximum extent. If we get a better weather window, we’ll get the court striped and see how it behaves.”

Dave Ditlefsen, Sequim High School athletic director, said if the courts are not repaired it will significantly impact the girls’ spring tennis season. With 30-35 girls traditionally playing, cutting players due to space may be one option, he said.

Sequim tennis coach Justine Wagner already modified practices and matches in the fall for the boys team. Many junior varsity players couldn’t play and many practices focused more on drills than match-play due to space and lighting issues.

Community court effort

However, volunteers with a new group, the Sequim Community Tennis Fund, seek donations to install tennis courts in Carrie Blake Park for community use.

Terry Parks, a recent transplant from San Diego, Calif., an educator and amateur tennis competitor, said the purpose behind the group is to bring awareness for new tennis courts.

“We are trying to put our money where our mouth is,” Parks said.

Parks, who is partnering with Wagner and Don Thomas, a local tennis instructor, said they want to emphasize the courts are for Sequim’s children, too.

“Retirees can play in Port Angeles or Sunland has private courts or they can drive to Bainbridge Island,” he said. “They have options but kids and busy families cannot do that. They don’t have time or expenses.”

The fund, Parks helped create, isn’t a nonprofit but exists as a grassroots organization to build and support courts and maintain them, pay for free children’s and adult programs and equipment, he said.

“People are being taxed to death across the country,” Parks said. “The idea is through charitable contributions we can put on those special events and help the kids most importantly.”

Parks has been in conversation with Joe Irvin, special projects manager for the City of Sequim, to see if the city staff could find a spot for the courts.

Tentatively, Parks said new courts, 4-6 of them, could go where the north playground is and the play structure could be moved.

Irvin said the idea has been discussed with the City’s Parks and Recreation Board but not formally adopted.

“There are multiple benefits with moving the playground to the south side,” he said. “It makes it a safer play area instead of families crossing the road and where (the playground sits now) is a relatively flat surface and could be minimal excavation for future tennis courts.”

Irvin said city staff and councilors have indicated tennis courts would be a good amenity in the park but that’s where the discussions seemed to end.

“Until we find ways to fund additional capital improvements, we won’t see a lot of change, like pickle ball and tennis courts,” he said.

The city will have to seek grants and donations such as from the tennis club and/or budget for courts specifically, Irvin said.

“I really want to work with Terry’s group to find a specific location,” he said. “I think there’s a way it can happen, it’s just not going to happen overnight.”

In the past 10 years or more, representatives with the Peninsula Tennis Club approached the city and school district to repair and/or partner on funding new tennis courts but were told there weren’t enough available funds.

Irvin said the Carrie Blake Park’s Master Plan from 1997 showed plans for tennis courts and the Parks Master Plan he’s working on continues that, too.

Many city projects such as the Sequim-Shiso Friendship Garden, the Guy Cole Convention Center and the Albert Haller Playfields were community funded and that’s the direction Parks thinks new courts must go, too.

“My perception is that partnerships and collaborations are needed to get anything done nowadays,” he said.

“The economy has changed profoundly and it’s going toward philanthropy, taxpayer-funded projects.”

By starting the tennis fund, Parks thinks there is a possibility in the future for grants through the U.S. Tennis Association to help with construction and/or maintenance.

“We’re very much solution-oriented,” Parks said.”The way we see it, we’re going to have to help the city and push them along.”

High use

As the only public courts in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, Sequim School District’s tennis courts are actively used by the community before, during and after school hours so long as school events aren’t going on. Pickleball players are active at Sequim Community School’s pickleball courts, too.

Parks said pickleball isn’t a part of his group’s discussion, but the plan could be revised.

At the high school though, he feels the cracks are beyond repair.

“They are definitely unusable and a simple repair would not suffice,” Parks said. “We’re talking upwards of $50,000 for an overlay.”

As for what amount the tennis fund volunteers seek at Carrie Blake Park, he’s unsure right now.

“It’s not cheap,” he said. “Many courts now go with concrete because it’s much more durable and the maintenance is much more affordable.”

A 2010 estimate showed it would cost $66,000 to repair the five school district courts – resurfacing the top three and placing new asphalt and materials on the bottom two.

The Sequim School District’s recently proposed $49 million bond does not include a proposal for repairing or building new tennis courts.

The Sequim Community Tennis Fund can receive funds at First Federal locations and by contacting Parks at sctf40love@gmail.com, terrenceparks@netscape.net or 360-808-7949.


 

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