More beach v’ball courts being eyed

Duane Hicks

Town council will be including the construction of additional beach volleyball courts for consideration during next year’s budget process.
While council was presented Monday evening with a recommendation from the Community Services executive committee to allocate $2,000 in unbudgeted capital funds for the construction of two beach volleyball courts at Pither’s Point Park, several members of council felt they should hold off until they determine where best to put the courts and what all the costs will be.
Mayor Roy Avis said council shouldn’t rush into the decision, given there’s only four weeks of summer left and the future of Pither’s Point Park remains uncertain.
As such, the matter should be brought back as a budget item next year—once Community Services can provide exact costs for the construction and maintenance of any such beach volleyball courts.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft agreed it should go through the budget process next year, though adding he felt volleyball courts “would be a great thing for the community.”
“I think they will be well used,” he remarked, noting he’s seen how busy the one court is out at Pither’s Point.
Coun. Wiedenhoeft said Pither’s Point Park would be an ideal spot for more courts. And while the park remains in dispute right now, it’s possible the matter will be resolved by budget time next year.
That said, an excellent alternate location is the St. Francis Sportsfields because high school students certainly would use them—and possibly the school board would help pay for them, he noted.
“I do think it’s a good idea, [but] I agree with the mayor that it should come forward in next year’s budget process,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft said.
Coun. Paul Ryan suggested another location for the new courts could be Sunny Cove.
 “We’re trying to promote Sunny Cove, improve Sunny Cove, and I think there’s room there that we could be build these courts in a location that would be unobtrusive to a patron that we may have there, and would be available to a patron that we have there when they’re not in use by this league,” he reasoned.
“I think that would be an excellent, as well,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft agree.
“I do think they could be located out there and they could be located in town,” he added.
Coun. John Albanese said he’s very supportive of getting more beach volleyball courts, and asked for an estimate for the 2011 budget.
The request for the additional courts came from local volleyball coach and tournament organizer Amy Wilson-Hands.
In a letter to the town, Wilson-Hands noted there definitely is a demand for beach volleyball courts, citing the Canada Day tourney here easily could have fielded 20 teams but was limited to 10 because there currently is only one court at Pither’s Point Park.
Wilson-Hands, who has co-organized two beach volleyball tourneys over the last two summers, as well as co-coaches the Muskie junior girls’ volleyball team and the U14 “Vipers” competitive travelling squad, said she also sees a competitive advantage to high school volleyball players being able to train and play year-round (like those in Kenora and Dryden are able to do).
“I am highly confident that the purchase of new courts would definitely pay off for our community, our high school program, as well as youth programs,” she noted.
“I have had a tremendous amount of interest from the community members in starting an adult beach league, as well as a youth beach league, and if we were able to receive new courts, I would be willing to run at least one beach tournament a month from May to September.”
More courts also would enable Fort Frances to be a better host for Northwestern Ontario Volleyball Association (NorWOVA) beach volleyball competitions, like the one held here last Saturday (July 24).
Tourneys would happen each summer, featuring teams from Atikokan, Kenora, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, and here.
Wilson-Hands suggested that if the courts are located at Pither’s Point Park, they be at the open green space at Seven Oaks.
Realizing the future of the park is uncertain, her second suggestion was the green space at the Legion Park, where the old west-end rink and hall were located.