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home : local news : local news July 25, 2017

6/15/2017 1:27:00 PM
Coaches, others concerned over tennis surface
Daily News

Plans to renovate Washington Park's tennis courts remain in place, but opinions differ on the best materials for the job.

Robinson City Council heard from local tennis coaches who prefer asphalt courts to tile, the material aldermen had already approved.

At a previous meeting, the council approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Robinson Unit 2 school district to repair the tennis courts.

Unit 2 and city officials had already inspected the courts late last winter and early spring before the council decided to choose tile for the renovation.

At Tuesday's meeting, however, coaches said they prefer an asphalt court over tile because of its effect on the players.

Steve McGahey pointed out tile seems to make the players play slower, and practicing on them all season seems to make them sluggish when they compete on the road.

He also said other area schools play on asphalt courts, which is a better surface and seems to be recommended by the United States Tennis Association.

"Tile court is not something other area schools play on; mostly they use asphalt," McGahey said. "We used to have visitors from as far away as Cincinnati come down for tournaments, but they won't come to play on a flex (tile) court."

McGahey and his associates - Tom Buchanan, Steve Jenkins, Brad Siler and John Ireland - said they have talked with some business leaders and United Way volunteers about raising about $10,000 to construct a 6-inch layer of asphalt for the new courts. They say this will give the program - including a conference champion high school boys tennis team - a more competitive advantage and more home matches in the future.

A tournament last week in Robinson saw about 80 visitors in attendance for matches, and Jenkins said installing a tile court may drive those people away.

"People come here for a day and use our restaurants and gas stations for summer tournaments and we don't want to lose them," Jenkins said.

Alderman Gene Sinclair said he understood their reason for wanting a different style court, and pointed out that the tile wasn't the council's first choice. He was curious to know why the group had not come forward until last night.

They explained that time commitments and researching the right court for their program have kept them busy since the inspection and budget meetings took place. When asked how long it would take to find out if they can get enough money from investors, Buchanan said he was unsure and that they'll need as much time as they can get.

Alderman Rick Lowe said a lengthy wait could affect the price.

"The longer we wait, the asphalt price goes up," Lowe said. "We can't wait a long period of time to do this."

The council agreed since the decision had already been made to search for bids for a tile court, it should stick with that plan. Aldermen approved that motion but told the group they can still search for their own bids and continue to negotiate funding from investors for an asphalt court.

Following the meeting Siler and Ireland said the group was united in its support of the council and everything they've done for the city and its parks.

"We understand that there are budgetary and financial issues involved in this decision," Ireland said. "We have a poised community and they rally around us when needed."

Siler said he believes the tile is a mistake and could have a negative impact on the players.

"I'm concerned that this tile is a mistake, and we're getting more kids involved in the program," Siler said. "There are 50 kids in the summer program and we don't want this to put them at a competitive disadvantage."

The council continued its busy night with 24 other items on the agenda.

A motion to approve the sale of surplus public real estate at 1204 and 1206 N. Madison was approved. City Attorney Frank Weber recommended the bids for the property be submitted by 10 a.m. Sunday, July 9. A decision to rezone property at 807 S. Robb was not approved by the council upon a recommendation by the zoning board.

The council also approved the annual appropriation ordinance. City Treasurer Denise Jobe said the ordinance sets the spending limits of line items for the entire city for fiscal year 2018.

Tourism grants for eight organizations were approved.

Funds approved included: City pool, $68,563.26; Oblong Antique Tractor Show, $3,000; Wabash Valley Coonhunters Club, $5,000; Heath Harvest Festival, $7,000; Oblong Chamber of Commerce, $2,500 for next month's Hootenanny; Crawford County Fair Association, $5,000; Fourth of July Committee, $5,000; and the Crawford County Triathlon, $950.

Two others applications weren't approved because they did not meet criteria.

A supplemental payment for a construction project was approved, despite some council members being concerned that the project took place in 2013.

The payment of $39,597.02 is owed by the city for the Main Street project that year. Jobe said the city is responsible for work to sidewalks, side streets and yards among others. The invoice of $68,622.24 was also approved.

Robinson Police Department gained approval of its new secretary. Brianna Leake will take over the position soon.

The department was also approved pursuing a $20,000 Mary Heath Grant to offset costs for the Spillman Project. The department also received permission to accept a bid of $2,444.99 from Axon Law Enforcement for Taser equipment.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Shimer was also granted permission to hire Courtney Callaway for summer help at the park.

Both Shimer and Lowe also sought approval to purchase LED lights for $6,500 for the training center and bathroom partitions for $1,310.98. The council approved both. A total of $8,000 worth of batting cage machinery was also approved.

The council approved the purchase of a street sweeper under the price of $97,995. Superintendent of Public Works Lawrence Quick's requests for a part-time hiring for July 10 and the purchase of $74,510 of prison lift station equipment was also approved.

In other business, the council:

• Adopted the annual prevailing wage rate ordinance.

• Purchased a plate compactor $3815.74 from Vincennes Industrial.

• Accepted a $128,423.18 bid from Ambraw Asphalt for street resurfacing.

• Adopted an ordinance requiring residents to install satellite dishes no bigger than 36 inches 3 feet from sidewalk.

• Amended the salary and fee ordinance.

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