The four dilapidated tennis courts at Ehlert Park at the south end of Brookfield will be given a makeover this fall after elected officials on June 27 gave the go-ahead for improvements to be designed and the project to be auctioned .
Recreation director Stevie Ferrari told the Landmark she hopes the project can be tendered in August and construction will be complete in the fall.
When complete, the newly refurbished courts will be lined not only for tennis but also for pickle ball, a game that has proven to be a hit at the new tennis courts at Candy Cane Park in the far north from the village.
The Ehlert Park upgrade will also be the first real tennis court surface work in more than three decades, according to Village Trustee Kit Ketchmark, who was an avid tennis player in the late 1980s.
Between 1985 and 1988, Ketchmark said, the village decided against completely rebuilding the surface of the court and opted for a cheaper solution that involved laying down a layer of artificial grass and sand to simulate a clay surface. Ketchmark was not a fan.
“I remember when they were redone and I hated them because of the sand dragging the ball around,” Ketchmark said. “I wear contacts, which makes the game difficult. We usually went to LaGrange to play.
At the village board meeting on June 27, Ferrari told elected officials that it had received formal confirmation that the state was finally releasing the $200,000 earmarked in the state capital budget for 2019 by Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development.
At the time, the cost of resurfacing tennis courts was estimated to be around $160,000. Three years and a pandemic later, the cost estimate has risen to $270,000, Ferrari said, which will require the village to fund the remaining $70,000.
In addition, the state informed the village that the funds for the tennis courts will not be disbursed until 2023. Accordingly, Ferrari asked the administrators to consent to use $200,000 from the general operating fund for the project of tennis court. When the village receives state funding for the tennis court project in 2023, the money will repay the general fund and be used later for road improvements.
Hitchcock Design Group, which Brookfield has used as a consultant for park improvement projects for the past 15 years, will design the improvements and manage the construction of the project, which will also include new fencing.
Bids received later this year will go to the village council, which will vote to award a construction contract to the lowest bidder.