After nearly two years of work, the negative weather was no longer going to hinder the renovation project of the Lycée Gering tennis courts. Crew members from the town of Gering were absent for the demolition of the courts on Thursday, despite the cold temperatures.
The start of the demolition started a week before Thursday February 17, with the dismantling of the fence around the courts, and it came after Gering City Council approved the interlocal agreement with Gering Public Schools at its meeting on February 14. . According to Amy Seiler, Director of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Benefits.
The rest of the funding for the project, which is budgeted at $400,000 according to the interlocal agreement, comes from $200,000 set aside by the Gering Board of Education and $90,000 raised by a group of local individuals through the intermediary of the Tennis Courts Revitalization Committee under the Gering Public Schools Foundation. Zac Karpf, one of the committee’s leaders, said the group had also applied for a matching grant that should add another solid “five-figure” figure to the project.
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“It will allow us to do things in this facility to make it top notch,” he said.
The three entities involved in the project said they were delighted to finally see it come to fruition.
“It’s something that’s been going to happen for a number of years,” Karpf said. “Our group actually started meeting in 2020, about 18 months ago, so it’s exciting to see the progress, and in 2022 the community and the kids will have brand new tennis courts.”
Seiler said, “I’m really excited for the community and for our students. This is an opportunity that shows that the two entities and the community itself with the fundraising group can come together to put together this fundraising project for recreation in the community.
Jennifer Sibal, director of community engagement at Gering Public Schools, said it was a great way to unify the school and the community.
“It really is a great collaboration between the city creating more recreational opportunities for our residents, the school district being able to partner and support this after-school program…and then the private citizens who have stepped up under the Gering Schools umbrella Foundation and really came out and drew support and collaboration for all of this,” she said. “So this project is really possible because of these three entities, and so we’re excited to have it all come together.”
Sibal said the goal is to get the new courts ready for the fall 2022 men’s tennis season, with lines likely to be painted in early August. The school has made arrangements for alternative practice facilities for the girls’ spring season this year and has made contingency plans for the fall in case construction is delayed, she said.
One of the best parts of the project, Sibal said, was what the courts could do for tourism and community economic development.
“We are building these courts to the USTA court modifications – so the size of the US Tennis Association – so that we can also be eligible to run tennis tournaments in the area – attracting revenue, tourism, economic development in the community, so that we can build this model of sustainability.
Soon the land will be ready for school and community use, and many can agree that the project is the brainchild of the group of individuals who came together 18 months ago to bring about change.
“It was definitely Zac Karpf and the tennis court committee (who should be credited),” Seiler said. “These people were really valuable – (people like) George Schlothauer – who had the energy to push this thing forward. Do not leave any of these people outside; it was this group of people.
Karpf said: “We have a great citizen-led group. It (the project) would not have seen the light of day without them.