The Board of Selectmen and the Community Preservation Committee have both endorsed a plan to build a five-court tennis complex on the campus of the new Tewksbury High School.
The project would cost an estimated $375,000, according to Barry Lewin, president of Friends of Tewksbury Tennis, and would be paid for with Community Preservation Funds.
"The CPC met on July 9 and voted to fully fund all five courts," Lewin told the selectmen at their meeting on July 17. "It's all CPC funds, so it will have no impact on the taxpayers.
The project is a scaled down version of a plan presented as part of the $1.9 million expanded stadium proposal, which was shot down by voters in April. That plan included six courts, as well as lighting for night activities. The new plan removes one of the courts and includes no lights, in deference to concerns voiced by abutters, said Lewin.
The five-court proposal also has the support of Town Manager Richard Montuori, who will be drafting the warrant article for the Special Town Meeting in October.
Lewin told selectmen that the courts are desperately needed in Tewksbury, both as a community resource and to continue the growth of the tennis program at Tewksbury High. Presently, the only public tennis facilities in town are three courts at the Saunders Recreation Complex on Livingston Street.
"The participation in tennis has exploded in town in recent years," said Lewin. "The youth programs in the summer are filled every year. On nice weekends there is a wait (to use) the courts on Livingston Street. And the (high school) tennis team has doubled in size in the last five years."
Lewin also quoted figures, showing that Tewksbury's tennis facilities lag far behind those of neighboring communities. According to information supplied by Lewin, Wilmington has 16 public courts, Billerica has 14, Lowell has 30, Chelmsford has 18, Methuen has 13 and Andover has 14.
"We have just three. Clearly we need the help," he said.
According to the plan, the courts would be build adjacent to the new high school, where the temporary parking lot now sits. It would be maintained by the School Department.
Lewin said he has been told by TMHS Athletic Director Brian Hickey that the constriction of the new courts would allow tennis to be added to the physical education program and for the addition of the boys varsity team.
"Everyone in the town will benefit," said Lewin.
Selectmen Scott Wilson and Ann-Marie Stronach agreed that the additional courts are needed in Tewksbury and thanked the Friends of Tewksbury Tennis for their persistence in supporting the project.
Selectman Doug Sears said he fully supported the project using Community Preservation funds but also brought up the need to find money in a future budget to improve the existing courts on Livingston Street.
The board voted unanimously to endorse the project.