Proposed tennis center moves forward as school board approves agreement with City of Edmond

By Steve Gust For The Oklahoman
Courtesy of newsok.com/edmond

A new Edmond multimillion-dollar tennis facility took another step forward this week as the Edmond School Board approved an operating agreement with its project partner, the City of Edmond.

Plans call for 10 indoor and 25 outdoor courts to be built near 15th and Kelly. The project has an estimated price tag of $14 million to be split by both parties. The city has already spent $2.5 million to purchase the land.

Edmond Schools Superintendent Bret Towne said the school would own the building and the city would own the land.

The arrangement, good for five years, also covers the amount each side will pay for utilities. Towne called the agreement a "good use of taxpayer money" and a "win, win, win" for the city, the school and the community. That sentiment also was voiced by Edmond School Board members during the regular monthly meeting on Monday.

"This is a unique situation," said Board President Cynthia Benson. "We appreciate the relationship with the City of Edmond."

Board member Jamie Underwood asked Towne who would be responsible if nets were vandalized.

Towne said it would depend who was using the court at the time. Either that or both parties would meet and decide how to pay for repairs, Towne said.

He compared the tennis court relationship to use of the Mitch Park Y facilities. That is a partnership among the schools, city and YMCA. The schools use the pool for team practice and competitive meets with other schools. That facility opened in 2014.

One board member also had another concern for the new tennis center. Kathleen Duncan wanted appropriate behavior at the center.

"I don't want anyone cussing," she said. "We don't allow it for the coaches."

Towne assured her the city would be willing to work with the schools to correct any such behavior.

The superintendent explained the district worked with the city, coaches and Athletic Director Mike Nunley on the agreement. After the agreement was approved, the board then OK'd a grounds lease for the yet-to-be constructed center. He said the lease was required by the state, and it would be $1 a year.

Towne said two schools in the district, Russell Dougherty and Boulevard Academy, also are on city land and have a $1-a-year lease.

The superintendent pointed out designs for the tennis center were about 30 percent complete and he expected approval of the plans by May. The project then would go out for bid in the summer, and construction would take 12 to 16 months.

The new center would replace the city's aging Kickingbird Tennis Center on Danforth and have more than twice the indoor and outdoor courts. The former director of Kickingbird, Winnie Bushey, ended her 20-year tenure at the center last month. She said the city would tear down and sell the Kickingbird property after the new center opened.

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