By Jason Stone, INDEPENDENT NEWSMEDIA
Players at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex, 14469 W. Paradise Ln., will finally see the light.
The Surprise City Council on March 5 voted to pay for lighting for eight courts that have been in the dark since the complex opened more than a decade ago.
Thanks to unused money set aside for a new slide at the Surprise Aquatic Center, 15831 N Bullard Ave., the council voted unanimously to divert $125,000 from the pool money toward the lights. And it approved kicking in the rest of the $375,000 total cost for the lights from the general capital contingency fund.
“We’re getting our tennis court lights finally,” District 6 councilmember Chris Judd said.
The Community and Recreation Services Department had $240,000 of unused funds this fiscal year because the slide it wants to replace won’t be ready until the late fall or early winter this year.
That means swimmers won’t get a chance to use the slide this summer. But it also means the recreation department was able to use this year’s funds set aside for the slide on the tennis court lights instead.
“The lights have been in our Capital Projects (list) for years,” said Donna Miller, Community and Recreation Services director. “It’s been a high priority. There just hasn’t been the funding for it. It was identified quite a few years ago and identified in our Master Plan as well.”
The remainder of the slide money that’s not going to the lighting will be split up between security enhancements to the CRS lobby renovation as well as a wash bay at the Campus Maintenance yard, something the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is requiring.
When the tennis complex was finished in 2007, funding wasn’t available to light those final eight courts. Ms. Miller said the added lights will benefit leagues and classes that use the courts in the summer. It will also allow the city to bid on hosting more tournaments once additional courts are available.
Plus, more lit courts mean more open ones for residents to reserve for a singles or doubles game.
Ms. Miller told the council the potential extra business could bring in about $10,000 or about what the energy for the lights would cost.
That was a key sticking point for District 4 Councilmember Ken Remley.
“Efficiency is the buzzword of the day,” Mr. Remley told Ms. Miller. “If we’re going to do this, let’s try to manage the cost of that thing.”
District 3 Councilmember Patrick Duffy praised the council’s decision.
“I’m just glad we’re finally finishing the Tennis Center,” Mr. Duffy said. “We’re not upgrading it. We’re finishing it.”
Ms. Miller said the department still has other projects it wants to tackle, including renovations to the Northwest Regional Library and adding shade structures and splashpads to city parks.
Editor’s note: Jason Stone can be reached at 623-445-2805, at email@example.com or on Twitter at @thestonecave.