Paddle tennis court plan moves forward
Dagmara Kokonas of Chicago plays platform tennis at the Winnetka Paddle courts in early October. Wilmette officials are working on the creaton of a four-court complex at West Park. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
WHAT: West Park paddle tennis complex
WHO: Wilmette Park District
HOW MUCH: $1.39 million current estimate
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:16AM
WILMETTE — With some design concerns about their paddle tennis project cleared up, Wilmette Park District commissioners now appear ready to tackle the question of how to run the four-court complex they plan to build at West Park.
At a Nov. 19 parks and recreation committee meeting, District Director Steve Wilson said he likes a management model similar to that now used at Centennial ice arena.
If such a model is eventually approved by the board, the district would handle overall management at the complex, and provide court time for non-league play. However, court use for paddle tennis league play – which is envisioned as a major source of business and revenue for the center – would be handled by renting court time to whatever league forms to operate out of the complex.
Such a hybrid plan might combine aspects of two other models; one used at the Winnetka Park District’s busy courts, which were built and are managed by a private association, or a system completely handled by the park district, including leagues and league schedules. Wilson said staff have budgeted for a paddle tennis professional for 2013, the year in which district officials hope to start operating the complex.
No matter what model the park board ultimately decides to use, it must make sure the courts remain available to as many people as possible, commissioners said.
“I wouldn’t like it to become some sort of elitist situation,” Commissioner James Crowley told fellow committee members. Commissioner John Olvany, a non-committee member who attended the session, agreed, adding that “I wouldn’t want I to become a country club within a park district.”
Members of the committee were pleased with Williams’ floor plan adjustments, which included increasing the size of the warming hut by 300 square feet to roughly 1,400 square feet, making the hut’s outer deck slightly smaller, and repositioning the building to face north in West Park.
Much of the work through which architect Tom LaLonde walked commissioners at the meeting answered questions they had raised in October about sight lines from the hut to the four courts. Commissioners told LaLonde to adjust the height of one section of the outer deck to cut down on costs, and asked him to consider moving the site for potential future courts as far to the west of the site as possible without running into utility easements.
Costs stand at an estimated $1.39 million. They could run higher if the project needs to deal with underground sewer lines at the site, LaLonde cautioned.
District officials have for several years considered building paddle tennis courts to take advantage of a potentially large market for the increasingly popular sport. Last August, a split park board narrowly agreed to build the project using existing fund reserves. The 4-3 vote came despite complaints that the district had more pressing needs on which it could spend the $1.2-$1.5 million then estimated for the project.