Edmond tennis center proposal moves forward; process draws complaints

By Steve Gust For The Oklahoman

EDMOND — A proposed new tennis center project isn't proceeding as fast as one Edmond School Board member would prefer.

During its regular meeting Monday the five-member board gave its approval to preliminary plans for the multimillion-dollar project. Yet, board member Kathleen Duncan expressed her frustration, claiming the project is at least six months behind schedule.

The new tennis center, to be built near 15th and Kelly, is a joint effort between the city of Edmond and the Edmond school district.

Edmond schools Superintendent Bret Towne said the city bought 25 acres last year for $2.5 million. Plans call for 10 indoor courts and 18 outside courts at a center equipped with 373 parking spaces.

Duncan questioned whether the plans should be amended by adding an extra six outdoor courts. That would allow Edmond to host state tournaments, she said.

Towne said that option could be explored later with each outdoor court costing $70,000 each.

Duncan added the planning should have started months ago. She also was critical of not consulting Edmond high school tennis coaches until only eight weeks ago.

"That (consulting them) should have been the first thing we did," she said.

Athletic Director Mike Nunley blamed that on communications problems.

"There's a lot of parties involved, and we're trying to get everyone on the same page," he said.

Towne said the tennis courts and the buildings will be constructed separately, and some outdoor courts could be ready by next year.

After the meeting, the superintendent said the price tag would be in the $14 million range, split between the city and schools. The city, he said, already had spent the money buying the land. The schools are funding the project from a $111 million bond issue, which passed in February.

The center, Towne explained, would have locker rooms for the three high schools, as well as meeting and office spaces. He compared the planned facility to a mutual agreement the schools have at the Mitch Park YMCA and its swimming facilities. The district partnered on that project with the YMCA and the city. It opened in early 2014.

With the tennis center, Towne said the schools would have the ability to schedule its meets and practices first, as well as summer events and camps.

Turning the facility into a major revenue raiser might be a challenge, Nunley said.

"A meet with other schools might raise a few thousand dollars," he said.

The real savings might come from reduced transportation costs. The athletic director said there are several trips made now to Ponca City, Broken Arrow and Jenks. Making those trips are not only Edmond high school varsity teams but junior varsity and middle school teams. A new center would cut down on those trips.

The Edmond City Council is scheduled to discuss the new tennis center at its Dec. 11 meeting.

After the meeting, Towne said he was hoping to firm up plans and sign an agreement with the city next month.

Courtesy of The Oklahoman
Direct link to article: http://newsok.com/edmond-tennis-center-proposal-moves-forward-process-draws-complaints/article/5574837

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