The City of West Hartford received the majority of the funding for the replacement of tennis courts at Conard and Hall High Schools through state bonding.
By Ronni Newton
Construction began this week on a project to replace the 25-year-old tennis courts at Conard and Hall High Schools, with funding for the project largely coming from the state.
The replacement of the 24 courts – 12 in each school – was originally planned as part of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, but with advocacy from the city’s legislative delegation, in March the City Bonds Commission The state has approved $3 million for the project, which benefits high school tennis teams as well as the public. The courts are free and accessible when not in use by high school teams, and also serve as the site for the state high school tennis championship competition.
The plans – which were developed in collaboration between the city and West Hartford Public Schools – include replacing existing asphalt courts with state-of-the-art tension concrete courts, as well as replacing fences and outer nets. The new courts will have a 20-year warranty against structural cracking, heaving and settling, as well as a 10-year warranty against bubbling and peeling.
Tension concrete courts are more durable and will also save on maintenance costs. The asphalt dries out and shrinks over time, leading to dangerous cracks, and the city has spent about $60,000 a year on resealing and other repairs.
The project was put out to tender, but the cost is higher than previously estimated. On Tuesday, the West Hartford City Council unanimously approved an appropriation of $495,000, which covers the higher sum listed in the offer ($354,000) and allows for any potential cost overruns.
Classic Turf Company, which recently completed rehabilitation of tennis courts and construction of six new pickleball courts at the Buena Vista Recreation Complex, will carry out the work.
City Manager Rick Ledwith said the courts should be finished by the time the high school tennis teams begin their spring seasons.
Tennis courts that remain available for public use of which the high school courts are under construction include:
- Buena Vista – 2 new courts
- Fernridge Park – 2 hard courts and 4 har-tru courts
- Whiting Lane School – 2 hard courts
- Wolcott Park – 4 hard surface courts
Prior to the vote, the city held a public hearing and resident Brian Clarke, whose property adjoins the Conard tennis courts, expressed concern that the neighborhood had not been given advance notice that construction was due to take place this week so they could be prepared for the noise and have a chance to put away fragile items that could break due to vibration.
He asked the city about replacing landscaping buffers to provide privacy between yards and houses, and along the street, and also asked if the access door to the yards could face the street, rather than opening onto its courtyard. He also wanted to make sure the courts would drain his property.
While council members cannot respond directly to anyone testifying at a public hearing, Ledwith said he spoke with Clarke after the hearing and noted her concerns. He said he apologized for the lack of notice and would also be in touch with the construction company.
In response to a question from Councilor Carol Blanks about protecting privacy during construction, Ledwith said he would speak with the crew and ensure a privacy barrier is erected.
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