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Town seeking RFPs to rehabilitate Bliss tennis courts

Date: 3/7/2011

March 7, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW — The Bliss tennis courts, located at the corner of Bliss and Laurel streets, may become a regularly utilized facility once again.

According to James Brennan, chairman of the Board of Park Commissioners, and Bari Jarvis, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, a private group has expressed interest in restoring the courts — which have not been used in three years — for the purpose of conducting tennis lessons and clinics.

This news prompted the Select Board to advise both the department and board to begin looking into the creation of a request for proposal (RFP) to further explore the possibility.

If a group or company expresses interest and outlines a proposal that the town deems acceptable, that group would be responsible for the maintenance costs.

The RFP will most likely be released in 2012 because it is too late to begin the RFP process for this year.

The Select Board has also requested to see a sample of what the minimum acceptable criteria for such a venture would be.

In a favorable proposal, residents would also have access to the courts, free of charge, making it a promising proposition, according to Brennan.

An evaluation of the clay courts revealed the surface is in good condition and the biggest expense to the town would be replacing the fence that surrounds the court. While the fence could be repainted, it would only be a temporary improvement that would need to be repeated in three to five years.

The framework of the fence remains in good shape and only the chain-link fencing itself would need replacing, Brennan said. The screening would cost the town approximately $22,000. Should the town decide to add base posts, those would cost an additional $4,000.

Brennan said the town would be best served in waiting to see the viability of such an agreement through a trial period of one to two years before investing money in replacing the fence.

The Parks and Recreation Department has performed two surveys and hosted a public hearing regarding whether or not there is interest in a tennis court reclamation project, according to Jarvis.

Approximately 400 people surveyed expressed a desire to keep the courts intact, as opposed to using the land for other purposes.

Of those 400, 30 percent were tennis players and 10 percent said they use the courts. Jarvis said this suggested that even those who do not use them recognize their value to the town.

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