An ambitious plan by the Nelson Tennis Club could bring about a multi-sport complex built behind L.V. Rogers.
A proposal by the club to build a four-court facility that also includes three pickleball courts, two basketball half-courts and a space for road hockey was approved by School District 8 on Tuesday.
Trustees voted in favour of providing the club with a letter of support for a Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) grant application, as well as funding $102,000 for the estimated $300,000 project. The complete proposal is attached to the bottom of this story, as well as an updated site plan.
SD8 chair Lenora Trenaman said the club’s initial presentation made an impression in December.
“It seemed like a pretty good win-win,” said Trenaman. “The community wins along with our students. It would be an upgrade to our facility and provide more opportunities in different areas of sports than one.”
Nelson Tennis Club president Keith Bridger said plans were set in motion at the club’s annual general meeting in November to find a new home. The club currently operates three courts on land owned by Granite Pointe, and had asked the golf course for a 10-year rental agreement that would help it take on future capital improvements.
When Granite Pointe declined the request, the club turned its focus to LVR’s backyard.
“Although it’s in a little bit of dilapidated condition right now, it’s a beautiful site with a lot of potential, we thought wow, we should approach School District 8 and see if we can turn this into a facility that we can grow the future of tennis and that they can have easy access for their students, not just for tennis but to a whole complex of sports,” said Bridger.
LVR principal Tamara Malloff said she’s thrilled by the plan. The space behind the high school has four tennis courts and a basketball court adjacent to a soccer field, all of which is in poor condition.
“The tennis courts right now are not safe to play on. They really, really aren’t. There’s tree roots that are coming up,” said Malloff.
“We’ve talked about it with the PE department, what is it we can possibly do to rectify that, because we do have the kids going out using community spaces and this is right in our backyard. We need to make sure that outdoor classroom is ready for kids.”
The four-year construction plan is not set in stone yet. The next step for the club is to apply for CBT’s recreation infrastructure grant, which is due Feb. 1. and won’t continue after 2018.
If successful, construction would begin in spring or summer of this year with site cleanup and the old courts replaced by new ones. Basketball, road hockey and pickleball courts could also be added this year.
SD8 funding would also be included in plans for two washrooms and parking to be added in 2019. After that, the club plans further fundraising for a clubhouse and viewing platform in 2020, along with court lighting in 2021.
The agreement with SD8 also calls for a 20-year lease for the club, which will assume project management and maintenance of the courts, washrooms, clubhouse and viewing deck. SD8 has priority use of the courts during school hours, except for Tuesday and Thursday mornings. A junior development after-school program is also in the works.
Bridger said the new facility could open up tournament hosting possibilities for Nelson, such as tournaments sanctioned by Tennis B.C. that require four-court facilities.
But the addition of other sports like basketball into the plans means about 40 students could use the space at any given time as opposed to just 16 for tennis — or zero, which is how many students use the land now.
“They could have a first-class sports facility right in the backyard of LVR,” said Bridger.