Tennis courts

Newmarket plans to move tennis courts to Shining Hill to create more downtown parking

The mayor says the time has come to decide on the relocation of the tennis court with the clock tower hotel adding to parking problems

Newmarket plans to turn its downtown tennis courts into parking spaces and replace them with a new facility on the Shining Hill grounds.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor sent a memo about the idea to downtown business leaders. Under a new deal with developer Shining Hill, the grounds could be a long-awaited new home for Newmarket Tennis Club, with 12 courts up from the current six.

Meanwhile, the Keith Davis Tennis Center could become a parking lot, with at least 100 spaces, to help meet the demands of the new Clock Tower hotel along the way.

Taylor said none of this is final and everything is subject to public comment and board discussion. But he said he expects it to be on the board’s agenda before the summer.

“We’ve been considering the development potential of this area with parking for years,” Taylor said. “We try to be as transparent as possible that the time to make certain decisions has come.”

The council has for several years had a new tennis facility as part of its recreation programme, with the town center courts previously seen as a parking solution. Previously proposed locations for the move included Art Ferguson Park, but Shining Hill has emerged as a new option in recent discussions.

Councilor Bob Kwapis said he wanted to make sure he had enough parking to accommodate any tourists the hotel might bring.

“Parking downtown has always been a challenge. With the 12 new tennis courts being built in Shining Hill, it gives the city a lot of flexibility in what we want to do with the current tennis club,” Kwapis said during a Feb. 2 meeting on Main. Street BIA.

Newmarket Tennis Club manager Sean Swail said they had been looking for a new location in Newmarket for a decade and were excited about the prospect of Shining Hill. He said it offers more room to grow compared to Art Ferguson Park.

“We are all very happy to be able to move somewhere with additional indoor courts,” he said. “Sounds like a good location.”

Taylor said pickleball could also be part of the new facility. Local pickleball fans have also said they would like more space than is available.

Main Street businesses have expressed enthusiasm for the new hotel, but are concerned about the impact on parking. Main Street BIA chairman Tom Hempen said he was happy to hear about the proposed move.

“We really appreciate the city working on this and sharing this information,” he told a BIA meeting. “A lot of people had concerns about the future car park and this really addresses them.”

The Shining Hill developers said it could take six to ten years to fully complete the residential community there. The city council has given interim approval for the rezoning to allow development to proceed, although there is still a site plan approval process ahead.

The hotel aims to open in the first quarter of 2023.

Taylor said he couldn’t say how long the tennis court change might take, but they are aware of that timeline.

“We have to be reasonable and flexible,” Taylor said of the upcoming process, adding that they will consult with all stakeholders. But, he added, “the boutique hotel is moving forward and we want to try to make sure that we take the steps as a city council to address the concerns of downtown merchants.”

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