The Shoreham-Wading River School District closed its tennis courts late last month after the district’s insurance company deemed the facilities “hazardous” and “unsafe,” school officials have confirmed.
A group of students, parents and residents blasted the school board during its regular meeting Tuesday night about the tennis courts closure, saying it was unfair that the tennis teams now have to be transported to different places to practice this season. A junior varsity girls tennis player also submitted a petition signed by more than 200 people asking the district to fix the courts as soon as possible.
The boys varsity team and junior varsity teams are playing their home matches this season at Longwood Middle School.
Parent David Raimondo said during the meeting he felt “blind sided” about the situation.
“To lock up the courts without explanation or disclosure to the community really took us by surprise,” he said. “To just lock them up without a plan in sight … I think it was unfair to the community.”
Glen Arcuri, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said the district has receive a $750,000 estimate to replace the tennis courts, including fencing, a windscreen and sidewalks. Lighting would be an additional $420,000, he said.
One option under consideration is moving the tennis courts to the north side of the football field and turning the area where the current tennis courts are into a separate parking lot for the North Shore Public Library, Mr. Arcuri said.
If the district decided to replace the tennis courts, Mr. Arcuri estimated a waiting period between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 months for the state Department of Education to sign off on the plan. The state needs to approve school construction projects before a district is entitled to building aid, he said.
Another option is to resurface the existing tennis courts, a plan which Mr. Arcuri said wouldn’t require state approval. He described the “floating covers” as a temporary fix carrying a price tag of about $300,000 to resurface all 10 courts.
Residents asked if the district could look into resurfacing a few courts as a compromise. The school board agreed to look into each option and later decided to form a bond committee to determine the feasibility of financing the tennis court upgrade, as well as district-wide capital improvement projects.
“We’re not happy to see that the kids are begin bussed,” school board member Sean Beran said. “I understand parents aren’t happy, but we’re looking for some sort of fix.
“We’re going to come up with something.”
The tennis courts were a point of pride for the school long before sports like lacrosse and football came into the picture. But the courts have been steadily deteriorating over the past decade.
Shoreham-Wading River used to serve as the host site for the Division IV girls tennis championship. But two years ago the tournament was moved to William Floyd High School because of the poor condition of Shoreham’s courts.
This past fall, Shoreham senior Aimee Manfredo won the Section XI singles title in tennis and was an all-state finisher.
The boys varsity team is currently 1-1.
With Joe Werkmeister