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Thu, June 20

Howard: Is it time to build a recreational facility?
My Point

With the new technology within our grasp building or rebuilding a recreational facility can be done in a manner that makes so much more sense in regard to: longevity, safety, long term costs with less strain in upkeep, building costs, being user friendly, security and future add ons and/or change of use situations.

When the City of Prescott rebuilt the historic courts at the Armory off of Gurley Street they decided to go away from asphalt courts that were common during that time frame and went with a softer, crack-proof omni court. Synthetic grass with sand in it.

Easy to maintain, easy on the joints and long-lasting. A few years later they replaced all the fencing and addressed the seating (concrete bleachers/stairs) that were built in the late 1930’s; keeping the historic aspect intact. They did it right.

Prescott High School went through some tough financial times about 15 years ago and the 6 tennis courts on Ruth Street went into major disrepair. To the point the high school tennis teams had to use the college to play their league matches. The school board finally came up with the funds to rebuild their facility from scratch.

The old courts were completely demolished, dirt removed, a new foundation put down, french drains, great fencing, concrete berm, and unfortunately even though post-tensioned concrete was suggested, the extra $100,000 wasn’t in the equation.

Asphalt was put in and now 12 years or so later the courts are beginning to crack pretty good. The life of an asphalt court is about 15 years whereas post-tensioned concrete is twice that long and most likely much longer than that. Yavapai College put their original 6 tennis courts in in 1974 with shared funding with the City of Prescott and a joint grant and contract that lasted for 25 years.

When that was up the college went their own way with the courts and about 5 years ago rebuilt the 40 year old cracked asphalt courts that were way over-due. But, they did it right. Post-tensioned concrete courts, great lighting, bullet proof fencing, windscreens, beautiful landscaping, a nice and well lighted parking lot, security cameras, reservation system, a partnership with the Prescott Area Tennis Association and small user fees to offset the maintenance, programming, and capital improvements that every facility face while getting the most use out of it.

It has been a rousing success thus far.

The old Prescott Racquet Club that opened in 1985 soon became the mecca of tennis at that time. Seven new courts with a club house, cafe, swimming pool and country club setting. But now 34 years later the asphalt courts are way past their prime.

During that time frame, money wasn’t set aside to update the courts. It’s a tough business and it’s had its ups and downs.

The club is still very beautiful and a great place to belong, but the courts need attention and it would cost about $35/40 thousand a court to bring them back to perfect condition. Tough decisions to make as a business owner in what makes financial business sense and a time frame that works. Mingus took their 8 very sad asphalt tennis courts and in the past two years put post-tensioned concrete right over the old asphalt as a base for a total of $400,000, and they are absolutely beautiful.

Bottom line is, if you’re going to spend the money and take the time to build or rebuild a recreational facility, take the time to make the right decisions. Don’t cut corners that are important. Come up with ways to be financially smart, but not for short term results that just put a bandaid on a major wound. Think of ways to be inclusive for the “whole” community when it’s a public facility and create ways to program and maintain it properly for years to come.

Do it RIGHT!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.

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