CUMBERLAND — The public tennis courts at the Mason Sports Complex in South Cumberland have fallen into disrepair and their future remains uncertain, city officials say.
The courts are part of several other sports fields at the resort, which include baseball and soccer fields, a playground, and a BMX track. Now tennis courts have gaping cracks with weeds growing, leaving the surface unplayable.
City officials say a combination of unfortunate circumstances contributed to the current state of the courts. More recently, the site has been used as a staging area for contractors carrying out stormwater drainage work on the site, which lasted over two years. The work prevented city maintenance crews from accessing the area.
Additionally, the surface of the court did not hold up well due to the wet ground below and freezing winter temperatures.
“The reason they are in the condition they are in is that we couldn’t reach them because the company that was working there had occupied the whole area with the first phase of the overflow project,” said Cumberland Chief Jason Deal. maintenance. “These courts also have the floodplain right there. It stays wet. It is a marshy area. Moisture under (the) concrete (surface) with freezing and thawing is not good for concrete. That’s part of the reason why (the surface) cracked.
The City of Cumberland launched the first phase of a $55 million project in 2018 to build a pipeline and storage tank system to address the city’s problem with stormwater runoff.
The city contracted with Leonard S. Fiore, Inc. to install a 5 million storage tank under the basketball courts located in the complex. The storage tank is designed to hold stormwater and sewer overflows during periods of heavy rain.
Cumberland has antiquated underground pipe grids known as the combined sewer overflow system. CSO systems feature stormwater and sewer lines that are combined. Aging CSO systems allow excess overflow effluent to be discharged into surrounding waterways when pressure builds during heavy rains. Locally, overflow effluent is discharged at stations known as CSO weirs along the Potomac River.
Work to bury the storage tank is complete, but construction of a 78-inch pipeline between the city’s CSO outfalls and the tank below the complex has not. Once a pipeline is installed to carry the overflow from the city to the storage reservoir, the excessive overflow problem will be largely solved. The excess effluent in the storage tanks will finally be treated at the nearby treatment plant before being discharged into the river.
The State of Maryland approved the project. City officials hope the US Army Corps of Engineers will give final approval for the remaining phases in the coming months.
Bobby Smith, the city’s chief engineer, said tennis court square footage will likely be affected by pipeline construction.
“The north side of these tennis courts, we’re actually going to run this pipeline through to facilitate construction,” Smith said. “That’s why there hasn’t been a major restoration effort (at the court level). When we started…we thought we would be in construction now. However, this project is still far away.
Diane Johnson, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, said the courts may have to be scrapped entirely.
“The court’s location in a humid, marshy area is a big reason for the state it is in now,” she said. “That’s why they weren’t too eager to do anything with them.”
“At one point we resurfaced them and the resurfacing didn’t last very long; it started to crack. And they weren’t usable for about two and a half years when this CSO project was going on because the way they blocked off the area when they buried the storage tank, our fields were affected. »
Smith said the tennis courts weren’t used much by the public, “but we’ll take a look,” he said. “I think the maintenance staff will try to make at least one set of lands playable for the time being.”