No full court closures at club during season

December 17, 2015

No full court closures at club during season

Marci Shatzman mshatzman@tribune.com

Tennis players reassured at greater Boca meeting

Twenty members of the Swim & Racquet Club of Greater Boca Raton came to protest, but went away happy after finding all their tennis courts would probably not be closed temporarily and especially not during season.

The club is about to undergo major renovations that will demolish the main building, a former restaurant that was never used for anything but storage. But electric lines for the whole complex were found in part of the building.

There are 26 Har Tru tennis courts to the right of the building over a footbridge. Part of the renovations will include the pro shop, but not the courts.

"We're looking forward to renovations, but we'd like to minimize the disruption," said club member Candy Donnelly. "The timing is the main thing," she added, citing leagues that play during season.

"We will do the project, but probably in phases," Arthur Koski, interim director and legal counsel for the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District, said to reassure tennis players who attended the district's Dec. 14 meeting. If necessary, the tennis phase could even be postponed until 2017 to make certain it would happen over the summer when snowbirds are gone, he said, citing mold studies.

"This will not be a major closing of tennis facilities," he said to applause.

"We've paid our fees in advance for a 12-month period and we did not have notification," said Carole Oliver. Any fees would be pro-rated, Koski said about paying a fee in advance of services.

Forty-one members also signed a petition, citing concerns about "the city tennis courts at the facility. Actually, the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District, a taxing authority with city and county residents, bought the formerly private club, Koski said. But it's run by the city, so employees and contractors are paid by the city, Koski said to explain why the staff didn't know all the details. He said any tennis members can call him directly for updates.

"We will do everything possible to keep the tennis courts and pool open and we won't know until we get into it further," said Susan Vogelgesang, chairwoman of the five elected district commissioners.

Commissioners approved issuing a $2,000 contract to CJM Construction to assess a damaged ceiling in the main building. "A portion of the roof collapsed, and the city was ready to red tag the building," said Rick Zimmer, president of Zimmer Construction Consultants. "If that had happened, the city could have shut down the building, but we're stabilizing the facility."

Club members also asked for better lighting at night. But Koski said the facility is part of the Via Verde Homeowner Association, whose members have been reassured there would be no night lighting. There was also concerns about closing off a parking lot for heavy machinery.

"Many of us are not kids and we have rough knees, so putting us on hard courts in Patch Reef Park is impossible," said Jerome Reinert, 81, a Swim & Racquet member since 1993. Patch Reef Park is another district facility with tennis courts. "Two guys are 92 and play six days a week."

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