CONWAY — The Conway Area Tennis Association began looking for a $6 million, three-structure indoor-outdoor tennis facility, but the association will settle for eight new courts, restrooms and a building on one level.
It’s reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ words: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find that you get what you need.” »
The association made a presentation last year to the Conway City Council for an indoor and outdoor tennis facility at Laurel Park on Prince Street, south of Conway High School.
Although then-Mayor Tab Townsell said he supported modernizing the tennis courts, he was adamantly against a two-story facility in the Laurel Park green space.
Association members and city officials appear to agree that Conway does not have enough public courts — it has eight, including four in Laurel Park — and that those that do exist are in poor condition. state.
Parks and Recreation Director Steve Ibbotson is among those who agree.
“The courts that we have are in bad shape because the basement is in bad shape, and every time you go out there to repair the cracks, they reappear after a month,” he said . “So there is no need to invest more money into it.”
A scaled-down plan was accepted, which includes eight new courts and a facility with restrooms that will allow viewing of the courts inside, as well as a walk-through building to access the courts.
“We hope it will be between $1.1 million and $2 million,” Ibbotson said.
Marilynn Nabholz of Conway, chairwoman of the association’s tennis facility project, said that plan is Option B.
The Conway City Council didn’t vote on the proposal a year ago, but it was clear it was the preferred option because it didn’t consume as much green space in Laurel Park as the 6 million proposal dollars, she said. Plus, the potential price was much lower.
The existing courts would be demolished and the new Laurel Park courts would have a door and “a security point” to enter, Ibbotson said. Either a part-time employee would be used for the facilities, “or the city could enter into a contractual agreement with a professional,” he added.
“If you were to come to the tennis complex to play tennis, you would walk through a small building to get to the courts,” he said. “If we had tournaments, the tournament director could get away with it; they could have a place to store rackets and stuff like that.
There would be set hours of operation, he said, and the facility would be guarded during those hours. The courts could be reserved, which is not the case for municipal courts.
Requests for professional services, or bids, for the project have been announced and are expected Tuesday, the same day as the Conway Tennis Association’s annual public meeting. The group will meet at 6 p.m. in the Hall of Honor Room on the second floor of the Hendrix College Wellness and Athletic Center, 1600 Harkrider St.
Ibbotson said he would attend the meeting to brief the group on the proposed bids and to answer questions. He said proposals for professional services will be reviewed and a recommendation presented to the Conway City Council.
“We would like to have it completed by the end of this year, but I don’t know if that will happen,” Ibbotson said.
Newly elected Mayor Bart Castleberry agreed the tennis project was worth it for the city.
“The best example I can give you, I was driving down Prince Street on a Saturday, and I bet there were 40 kids with tennis rackets in their hands lined up to learn how to play. It’s obviously very popular,” he said.
“There’s a good chance the Conway High School tennis team will use (the new facilities) as well,” so Laurel Park is a good location, Castleberry said. “We are accepting RFQs (requests for quotes) and we are moving forward.”
Nabholz said the tennis courts are in poor condition and the city does not have enough courts to host tournaments.
“It’s just a start, but it’s a good start,” she said of the proposal. Nabholz said the association’s ultimate goal is to have indoor courts for year-round play.
In addition to the four courts at Laurel Park, the city has two courts at Gatling Park and two at Fifth Avenue Park.
Nabholz, who has been playing tennis for about 11 years, said players from North Little Rock and Little Rock “are just shocked” that Conway doesn’t have teams playing in Conway.
She said Conway players need to explain that the facilities simply don’t exist. Nabholz said a city the size of Conway should have at least 50 tennis courts, according to the United States Tennis Association.
Ibbotson said he doesn’t think Conway needs 50 courts, but he sees the need to improve the facilities.
“We definitely need more than we have right now, playable fields,” he said.
Castleberry also said that tennis, like golf, is “an activity you can do for the rest of your life.”
Ibbotson said the tennis court project would be financed through advertising and promotion funds.
However, Nabholz said the tennis association is working toward nonprofit status and is also considering applying for grants for the project.
“We want to do our part,” she said. “We’re still underserved, but this will be a good start.” »
Senior Editor Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.