Tennis court project gets big boost

Joey Payeur

Local tennis enthusiasts appear to be close to the reality of having a place to call home once again.
Community Services manager Jason Kabel confirmed Monday that the town’s application for a Trillium grant to help fund a proposed multi-use facility on the grounds of St. Francis School that will boast new tennis courts was approved earlier this month to the tune of $150,000.
The monetary shot-in-the-arm is welcomed by those associated with the estimated $400,000-plus project—up from the original figure of $325,000 when the plan was expanded to include lights and also install a storage shed.
“It is significant to our cause,” Kabel said about the influx of provincial funding.
“It’s exactly like an early Christmas present.”
“We’re more than pleased,” echoed Fort Frances Multi-Use Tennis Court Committee spokesman Bob Tkachuk.
“It’s exactly what we asked for and you never know if you’ll get that full amount,” he noted.
“Myself and the whole committee are ecstatic.”
The town already has committed $112,000 to the facility, and is awaiting a possible agreement from the Rainy River District School Board to accept its own finance committee’s recommendation to match that amount.
As for the Northwest Catholic District School Board, which also is examining its funding capabilities for the project, Kabel said it only would be fair to expect less of a financial commitment due to the fact that board is providing the property.
“They are getting funding to build a new school so they could hopefully take a small amount from those funds, somewhere between $25,000-$60,000, and put it towards the facility,” Kabel suggested.
If that amount is gathered and combined with the other funding, plus the roughly $30,000 that has been pledged from the public and local businesses, that would put the project over the top and allow construction to begin next year.
“As far as we know, when the frost leaves the ground, the base and the construction of the surface can start,” said Tkachuk.
“Tenders will be going out, although we do like this one company from out east that did the surface at the Rogers Centre [in Toronto], which is a cushioned, layered synthetic system and not just pavement with lines painted on it,” he noted.
Tkachuk stressed the committee should have the necessary funds to install such a surface.
“But I don’t see where a company from out east is going to want to haul a whole bunch of heavy equipment all the way out here to do the digging,” he conceded.
“So it might end up that we have a local company do that part and then the company out east do the surface.
“You would like to use one company for the whole job but that may not be realistic in this case,” Tkachuk reasoned.