Public Tennis Court Project Plan Approved

The Salina City Commission unanimously approved (5-0) a resolution of support to partner with Salina Net Generation (SNG) and USD 305 for the construction of a new tennis facility located at Kenwood Park in the area of the old Municipal swimming pool and adjoining rodeo arena.

SNG says the estimated $2.6 million public-private project will enable the City of Salina to provide 12 lighted post-tension concrete courts and hitting wall, along with repurposing the former pool house into a clubhouse to include restrooms, showers and other amenities.

This initiative will also include USD 305 assuming control of the four Jerry Ivey tennis courts, rebuilding these courts, and maintaining them all while continuing to provide access to the general public.

Clark Renfro, SNG representative, said “our grassroots effort has been working along with the City of Salina to address the declining conditions of the public tennis facilities, and we are thrilled to have their support. The true collaborative spirit of working together with the 3 pillars supporting this initiative, City of Salina, USD 305, and the private sector speaks volumes on Salina’s synergy to make things happen for the greater good.”

Currently all 15 of Salina’s inventory of public tennis courts have playing surfaces that cannot be cost-effectively maintained through continued repairs. SNG’s proposal addresses these challenges, and enables the City to have a more affordable option at Kenwood Park that will include a critical-mass court layout providing enhanced
recreational and competitive opportunities at a fraction of the cost to the City.

As part of the approved plan USD 305 will take possession of the Jerry Ivey Park tennis courts and upgrade them over time. Samantha Angell, SNG representative, shared that “Ivey Park courts will be improved and maintained long-term by USD 305, and the four courts there will remain open to the public.”

Under this approved plan the City will review future uses of the current tennis court spaces within Oakdale (aka Ken Nordboe tennis facility) and Sunset Parks.

Frank Hampton, SNG representative, stated “Salina tennis is well known throughout the Midwest and is traditionally one of the strongest tennis communities in Kansas, yet the deferred maintenance of our public tennis facilities has created playability and usage challenges. Our public-private effort will bring an affordable and economically viable solution, as well as numerous other attributes that will fulfill many of the needs currently facing the Salina Parks & Recreation department.” Salina has a high participation rate in its girls and boys tennis programs at both the middle school and high school levels. Arguably one of the most successful sports for Salina schools, tennis participant numbers continue to grow and the new courts will help meet those demands, as well as provide more opportunities for youth and adults to learn the game.

Recent estimates have put the total project in the neighborhood of $2.6 million. With approval the City of Salina will contribute $600,000 cash to the project, and in addition they will also cover the costs of the demolition of the former muni pool and rodeo arena, as well as bring the former pool house into serviceable condition. Estimated total cash injection from the City will be about $865,000.

The City’s approval to move forward is contingent upon SNG privately raising the remaining balance of funds, approximately $500,000, needed to complete the $2.6 million project.

Renfro said, “to date SNG has raised nearly $1.3 million in private donations and pledges, and the public support has been overwhelming. Yet SNG still has some work to do on the fund-raising front to get the project across the finish line. Timing is critical due to the unplayability conditions of existing public courts, and there is an immediate need for quality courts for schools as well as recreational play.”

The City of Salina Parks and Recreation lists 15 existing public tennis courts in the City of Salina (8 @ Oakdale/Ken Nordboe tennis facility, 4 @ Ivey, 3 @ Sunset). According to City officials all courts need to be rebuilt, and the cost for the City to rebuild existing courts on their own is estimated to be nearly $1.2 million. Additionally, less optimal options have been discussed by the City, but the alternative solutions have a much shorter life span and higher maintenance cost than that of the approved SNG plan. SNG’s plan will provide the City with a more universally sustainable valued asset, a longer life and lower maintenance expense, at a reduced cost to the City.

According to Angell, “an important justification for having a true centralized tennis facility rests on the power of having a critical-mass model to provide accessible tennis instruction, events, and to provide a central point from which utilization of other courts can be efficiently managed.”

Recreational experts have learned that vibrant tennis programming, both at the community level and at the organized competitive level, requires the critical-mass of a facility that can provide regularly scheduled instruction, properly maintained courts, and locker/restroom facilities. SNG’s vision will create such a facility for Salina, will provide space to grow, and will benefit the community by bringing in more all-inclusive recreational opportunities. With the lack of any nearby critical-mass tennis venues between Topeka and Denver, Salina is positioned to attract sizeable events to the area.

The approved plan will allow the City to have a total of 16 public tennis courts available for public use, at a lesser price than what it would cost the City to rebuild the existing 15 courts on their own. SNG’s solution will further assist the City as the City of Salina would only be required to maintain 12 courts, as USD 305 will assume control of the four courts at Jerry Ivey, via the property transfer process. Through this initiative 16 total courts will now be made available to the public and will provide much needed resources for an activity that is an integral part of the community and region.