By Meg Dickens
Locals have heard a lot about Cunningham Park and the tennis courts there in recent years. Courts have closed due to poor conditions and are currently being turned into something the public can use. Despite this development, the tennis court revitalization project is still ongoing. This means that the new pickleball courts and the outdoor shuffleboard playing area will cease to exist, at least to their current capacity.
As most people know, the Hometown Service Coalition (HSC) has unofficially promised to terminate the courts before classes resume. Work officially began on Wednesday July 21. According to HSC vice president and general counsel JC Lowe, the project is nearing completion but has encountered a minor issue with old positions. After that, it remains only to paint the lines.
In the meantime, plans are moving forward with the tennis court project. The project started with the Johnson County Tennis Association (JCTA), which has since disbanded. Its former manager, Paul Maulden, approached Mountain City Council for approval to pre-apply for a Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF). This grant would require a match of 50 percent from the city, or approximately $ 105,000.
“The Hometown Service Coalition knows that what it is doing is only temporary,” city mayor Jerry Jordan told Aldermen. “If it becomes available, it will be a tennis court. “
Lowe has confirmed that this is a temporary project. HSC’s work would cost significantly less and provide a “staging post” for entertainment during the space between projects. If there is enough public interest in pickleball when the tennis project is officially launched, he suggests finding a new location for the sport. Asked about the project, Lowe said the organization is keen to help the community in any way they can.
“We are working with the city in any way we can to improve the area,” Lowe explained. “As a company in 2021, we need to focus on better collaboration. It could make a world of difference.
City council approved Maulden’s 4-1 request, alderman Dustin Shearin opposed, as he is “not fiscally responsible” and the public lacks interest in other projects.
“Right now we’re not sure what $ 105,000 we’ll need to find,” Shearin explained. “If we approve this tonight, there will be a media storm over why we approve $ 105,000 when the majority of people in this town want to see a swimming pool. I don’t think it’s prudent or financially responsible to pre-allocate $ 105,000 which says it’s provided from city funds.
All parties agreed that the municipal pool is the priority for funding. At this point, approval should only apply so that it “does not endanger anything”. The city will hear in about a year whether the grant will be approved or not, and then decide whether or not to accept financial responsibility. For more information on the Mountain City government, visit mountaincitytn.org.