Funding for improvements to the city of Van Buren's tennis courts facility at the intersection of Pointer Trail East and 16th Street was approved at Monday’s (Oct. 21) city council meeting.
According to Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman, the $56,800 project will improve the playing conditions for members of the public and students from Van Buren High School who use the facility for leisure and sport.
He said the courts were plagued by drainage issues, which resulted in conditions not suitable for play.
"(We) had drainage issues that the water and rain was also standing on the court, so we needed to get some drainage and some sidewalks built around it," Freeman said.
Besides the standing water on the court, the tennis courts have also experienced drainage issue for visitors using the facility's parking lot.
"Back in 2009, we had generated a work order because we had drainage issues around the tennis courts and when people come out of the parking lot around the tennis courts, there's no way to get around, for example, to where the high school has tennis matches that are there, tennis tournaments that are there - you couldn't get from point A to point B without going through mud or dirt."
As for why the facility was not improved when the original work order was placed, Freeman did not elaborate except to say that the city was not "able to do it for a number of reasons."
The improvements approved tonight were preceded by other improvements in 2012, including improvements to the park's light and fencing. Freeman said the light project ran the city $83,000, while the new fencing came in at $7,900.
Even though the facilities are used as a sporting venue by the Van Buren School District, Freeman said the district was not asked to reimburse expenses associated with the improvements.
"The parks, the tennis courts are owned by the city, the property is owned by the city. For the school to put money into city property is just not a feasible concept. But I'll give you one on the other side - you go right next to the tennis courts, there's a walking track that's owned by the school district. Well, members of the community use that walking track. But the city does not pay for any maintenance on the walking track," he said. "We don't pay for any repairs on that and same thing, vice versa on the tennis courts. So, it's open to the community. It's open for the school district."
The project will be completed by Goodwin & Goodwin Inc., the lowest bidder to apply for the project.
The council also approved the renewal of two millages, a 2 mill tax first approved in 1988 and now renewed annually that is used by the city, as well as a 1.4 mill tax that benefits the library. The library millage was originally approved by two different elections – 1 mill was approved in 1942, while .4 mill was approved in 1994.
In other business, the council approved:
• Approved condemnations of property at 120 Fayetteville Road and 11 S, 25th St.;
• Approved a resolution allowing the police department to dispose of assets valued at $19,172.11 that was no longer functional;
• Approved an ordinance vacating a public easement on Fayetteville Road at the request of Larry and Paula Gordon, who own the property through which the public utility easement to the vacated extends;
• Approved an ordinance waiving competitive bidding and authorizing Freeman to enter into an agreement with the Crawford County Assessor for aerial photography and mapping at a cost of $30,000; and
• Approved an ordinance designating the district court as the responsible party for collecting fines for the city.