Tennis courts

Tom Petty Park in Gainesville gets a makeover with new tennis courts

Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.

But in this case, the residents of Gainesville who have long wanted improvements to the tennis courts at Tom Petty Park are getting what they want.

Heavy machinery began tearing up the 50-year-old asphalt courts last week at the park, located at 400 NE 16th Ave. Nets have been removed. The fence has been removed. And now the dirty work has begun.

“The cracking was significant,” said Betsy Waite, city project manager and director of Wild Spaces & Public Places. “The courts have deteriorated a lot over time.”

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The courts, believed to have originally been built in the 1970s, have been redone several times over the years but are in desperate need of a complete rebuild, Waite said.

The $158,000 project will be built by Nidy Sports Construction Company, Inc., in Longwood, Fla., and paid for with WSPP funds.

Wild Spaces & Public Places is a half percent sales tax that began in 2017 and runs through 2024. Money raised from the tax is used to acquire and improve environmentally sensitive land in the county of Alachua and to create, improve and maintain the city’s parks and recreational facilities. .

The courts will have better water flow to prevent flooding. Once completed, tennis players will have the opportunity to compete on four new courts with new nets and accessories.

Two courts in Petty Park will be reserved for tennis; other mixed use including pickleball

Two courts will be dedicated entirely to tennis, while the others will be mixed-use, offering pickleball playing options with portable nets.

“We know pickleball is a growing sport and we wanted to welcome those users as well,” Waite said.

During construction, the courts will be closed as improvements are made to the 25,000 square foot area.

The softball fields, racquetball courts, dog park and playground will remain open throughout construction, which is expected to be completed in early August.

“Once the courts are finished, I think they will be used a lot more,” Waite said.

A small front end loader moves dirt as a construction crew works to tear up the surface of the tennis courts at Tom Petty Park as part of a park court reconstruction project, in Gainesville FL.  May 16, 2022. Renovations began in early May with funds from the half-cent sales tax on wild spaces and public places.  The tennis courts will be closed until the construction work is completed in August 2022.   [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Tennis locals looking for a court to use can head to nearby Northside Park for a match, Waite said. Albert Ray Massey Westside Park also has open court hours, while Tom Petty Park facilities are being upgraded.

Improvements to park trails are also underway.

In June, the city plans to launch a week-long project to improve trail accessibility, which includes renovations around the playground. The estimated cost, also paid for with WSPP funds, is $2,600.

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