Hope for an early rebuild of Roeland Park’s only tennis courts draws support from residents to fix years of neglect

Austin, Ian and Todd Zimmer all spoke to the city council this week about the condition of the tennis courts at R Park.
Austin, Ian and Todd Zimmer all spoke to the city council individually this week about the condition of the tennis courts at R Park.

Todd, Ian and Austin Zimmer were three of the several Roeland Park residents who stepped up to the podium this week to ask the Roeland Park City Council to keep the repair of the city’s only tennis courts in the budget – and to do the repairs as soon as possible.

The double court is in R Park, but has fallen into such disrepair that it can be hard to play. Both Austin and Ian talked about the ball hitting one of the many cracks in the courts and bouncing in odd directions. One of the two courts no longer has a net. Grass is growing up between the cracks.

The Zimmers have been frequent users of the park, walking over from their house on Roe Ave. just a few blocks away, Todd said. The boys enjoy playing tennis and still use the available court even though the broken surface can make it difficult.

The tennis courts at R Park are at least 50 years old, Gretchen Davis told the council this week. And, she says, they have not been repaired or resurfaced in the last 40 years at minimum. Davis has been instrumental in the citizens initiative to raise funds for R Park. That funding has led to a walking trail and several other amenities, such as park benches.

The reconstruction of the tennis courts into a multi-use double court will cost $150,000. City staff is now hoping to move the project to the 2017 budget – it had been slotted for 2018 – and get at least $20,000 in grant money from the U.S. Tennis Association.

“It truly is a sport for all ages – don’t let this opportunity go by,” Jim Haley told the council. Davis said that approximately 70 residents have sent emails about the tennis courts. She would like the city to spend another $300 to get the new court striped for pickle ball use. “It would be a big draw,” Davis said, and its popularity among senior citizens would fit with the community for all ages plan.

This is the first council in a long time to start repairing the parks, Davis said, and residents are appreciative of that. Council president Becky Fast, Davis noted, has been a champion for park improvements.

The R Park courts were there during the time the land was a school, but it is not clear if the courts were placed by the city or the school district.

The tennis courts have deep cracks that make using them challenging.
The tennis courts have deep cracks that make using them challenging.