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City court renovations will begin this month

The tale of the deteriorating tennis courts will soon see a happy ending.

After years of patching holes and repairing cracks, and watching them reform, the Hood River Tennis Court Committee received good news this week that its fundraising efforts would meet the $261,179 needed to do major work on the city tennis courts (Tsuruta Courts) on May Street.

With a tight deadline to begin the project, the committee was in a last-ditch effort to raise the remaining $25,000 needed or risk delaying the project for another year or having it canceled altogether. At a special meeting Friday, Hood River City Council voted to grant the needed funds for the project after city staff said they could come up with the money by shifting funds from different city departments and projects.

“It really came down to the wire,” said Leslie Kerr, HRTCC member and tennis coach. “We were in a mad scramble and were not willing to accept that this would be delayed for another year. It’s wonderful that the city was able to find enough money to make it happen.”

Kerr called the renovations a win-win for the city and the tennis community since the improvements will significantly improve the playing experience and will reduce maintenance costs to the city, which owns the courts but has not been in the financial position to fund needed renovations itself.

The project will include nearly $130,000 in work by Crestline Construction to work on infrastructure, including moving lights to the outside of the courts and fixing drainage issues that have been a major source of problems.

Another $132,000 will be used for a new court surface called “Premiere Court,” which will be laid over the current surface and is designed to eliminate existing cracking problems, prevent future ones and stand up to variable weather of the Northwest.

“They’ll seal the cracks, level the court and then overlay the special material,” Kerr explained. “It’s a little more expensive of a surface, but it takes less maintenance and comes with a 25-year warranty so it should last a long time.”

To reduce costs of the project, final-stage projects like landscaping and adding benches were removed from the bid and will be done though volunteer work parties and community service projects.

A major source of the funding — about $178,000 — came in the form of grants from the U.S. Tennis Association and Oregon Parks and Recreation. Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation added about $8,000 to the effort and about another $60,000 came from individual and business donations.

“The community really stepped up to make this happen,” Kerr said. “I also have to give special recognition to Bob Francis (Hood River city manager); he was a huge factor in the whole project.”

With funding secured, the project is expected to get started within a week or two, and with a tight weather timeline for installation of the new court surface, it should be completed by the end of August.

In the meantime, the popular summer youth programs run through Hood River Community Education are still happening, but have been moved to courts in White Salmon.

Kerr said there are still limited openings for summer programs; register online at www.hoodriver.k12.or.us/coe.

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