City Council asked to reduce fees for racquetball court use

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

City Community Development Director Carol Lewis is asking the City Council to decrease the fee for families living outside the city to use the city’s racquetball court.

The council tabled the request during its regular meeting on Jan. 27 to get more information while under a mistaken idea that it was actually a request for a general fee increase for family memberships.

Lewis did not attend the council meeting and so was to correct the misunderstanding. Councilor Scott McKee Jr. objected to increasing the fee and asked what the Community Development Department, which includes the city’s parks facilities, was planning to do with a family fee increase.

As it turns out, despite decreasing one of the fees, Lewis is planning to give the racquetball court some attention this year.

Membership revenue will never cover the cost of the court, City Manager Craig Martin told the council, and a Budget Committee member has raised concerns over it.

The racquetball court is located on the south edge of Northside Park adjacent to the tennis court. The court had 16 active memberships in June, the last figures she had available last week.

A single membership fee is $50 per year. In 2004, the city created a family membership plan for $75. For families living outside the city limits, the cost was $112.50. The family plan provides multiple key cards to families.

The only fee Lewis is proposing will decrease the fee for families outside the city limits to $100 per year.

The new structure also specifically emphasizes that the membership applies only to immediate family members living in the same household, and the cards should not be given to members of an extended family, Lewis said. “One family in the city bought a membership, but they all wanted cards.”

Her request also removes a $6 fee for the key card except when the card is lost, she said. “Your card should be part of your membership unless you lose it.”

Her parks division has already done some cleaning and put up some signage, she said, but the court needs more attention than that.

“We need to look at replacing tiles on the floor or replacing the floor,” she said. “The best floor would be a hardwood floor. I’d like to put something in the budget this year.”

The court also has issues with its lighting, she said. A bird got trapped in the light structure, and the upstairs observation area needs some work.

The old Girl Scout hut at Sankey Park needs a little more work, and the city may need to do some more work on the bridge, she said. But she is ready transfer the city’s energy away from Sankey Park to the racquetball court and other parks this year, she said.

The costs for improvements, maintenance and repairs to the racquetball court will outweigh membership revenues, Lewis said. The city has considered inviting private management to operate it as a way to make improvements, but the court was built with federal grant funds, which would probably require the city to pay it back if it went under private management.