VALPARAISO | The city's Park Board voted Tuesday to remove the tennis courts at Bicentennial Park and plant it as grass.
Valparaiso Parks Director John Seibert presented the board with a plan by consultants Lehman and Lehman to turn the existing hard surface/basketball courts into additional parking, remove the tennis courts and put a new hard surface play area where the courts are located.
They will also build a new playground just west of the new parking lot.
The board has debated what to do with the tennis courts for some time. They are in bad condition and replacing them would cost $150,000 to $175,000. Seibert said tennis courts are available at the high school courts, which are open to the public.
That being the case, Seibert said it might be better to spend the $150,000 for the three new features, especially since the department plans to replace the existing playground at Bicentennial and the one at Kirchhoff Park within the next year.
Each of the features would cost about $50,000 with $25,000 of the cost of the new hard surface area being the cost of removing the tennis courts. Park Board Member T. J. Edwards asked if there is enough demand for hard surface, which also is used for other activities besides basketball, to warrant having it.
Seibert said the surface adds to the flexibility of the parks to serve the area. He agreed that turning it into grass would open that area up as green space that would have even more flexibility for soccer or other activities. After the board's vote, Seibert said he would get quotes for the removal of the courts, and the parks employees would plant the grass and landscaping.
He also plans to get quotes for new playground equipment. Seibert said the fall usually is the best time to get those prices, but he will see what he can get. The department has been replacing its older playground equipment, buying new equipment in the fall and installing it in the spring.
By turning the courts into grass, the money saved could expedite the remaining portions of the plan, which include a new open shelter next to the playground. The existing hard surface area will remain until the additional parking is needed.