Ramsey upgrading six tennis courts, removing two others

The city of Ramsey will be closing tennis courts at one park while making improvements to the playing surfaces at three others.

Bryan Aho (left) and Aaron Kucheska (right) of Ramsey playing tennis at Central Park. The four tennis courts at this park will get a fresh color coating and receive lights from the closed Titterud Park. Tennis courts at Fox Park and Riverdale Park will also get refurbished this year. Photo by Eric Hagen

Bryan Aho (left) and Aaron Kucheska (right) of Ramsey playing tennis at Central Park. The four tennis courts at this park will get a fresh color coating and receive lights from the closed Titterud Park. Tennis courts at Fox Park and Riverdale Park will also get refurbished this year. Photo by Eric Hagen

The Ramsey City Council Aug. 15 unanimously approved the recommendation from Mark Riverblood, parks director. Mayor Sarah Strommen was absent.

The two tennis courts at Titterud Park will be removed. The four tennis courts at Central Park will be refurbished with a new color coating and receive the lights from the closed Titterud Park courts. Two of the four Central Park courts will also get striping for pickleball.

There is one court each at Fox Park and Riverdale Park that will also be repaired.

The council directed that the cost of this work cannot exceed $52,000. Funding will come from the parks maintenance fund, which currently has a $142,000 balance, according to Riverblood.

All work is scheduled to be done this year, but Riverblood said the exact timing depends on contractor availability to move the lights and refurbish the courts. He will be seeking quotes within the next couple of weeks. Ramsey public works staff will remove the Titterud Park tennis courts.

“I believe that we have an obligation to the community to enhance the quality of their life and I believe that tennis courts are a representation of how we view our community and those are assets to us. I think it’s our responsibility to maintain that asset,” Councilmember John LeTourneau said.

Riverblood said the tennis court industry recommends a five- to seven-year rotation for color coating tennis courts. The Fox Park and Central Park courts are 18 and 17 years old, respectively, and have only received a new color coating once.

Riverdale Park’s one tennis court is 20 years old and has not been color-coated at all, according to Riverblood.

The two courts at Titterud Park were in much worse shape because it appears the soil compaction was not adequately done when these courts were installed in the late 1970s, Riverblood said.

When staff inspected these courts in the spring of 2012, they found that the color coating was coming off in large patches.

“We were very concerned that someone would be playing tennis and step on one these loose pieces of paint,” Riverblood said.

The city color-coated and patched vertical cracks with bituminous material over the last 30-plus years, but Riverblood said the city felt it was not safe to keep these courts open and too costly to tear out the old courts, put in new compacted soil and pave new courts. This could have cost more than $60,000 as opposed to $52,000 for refurbishing six courts at three parks and moving lights to another park.

After the city left the nets down and posted a closure sign at Titterud Park, Riverblood said two people made inquiries. Both said they drive to Titterud Park, so Riverblood told them about the tennis courts at Central Park and Rivers Bend Park.

Another resident called to say the Titterud Park tennis courts are “an eyesore” and requested that they be removed, he said.

Titterud Park is on the west side of Ramsey Boulevard, south of 162nd Lane. Central Park is on the northeast corner of 161st Avenue and Armstrong Boulevard.

Fox Park is on the north side of 170th Avenue and on the west side of Potassium Street in the eastern part of the community.

Riverdale Park is the only one of these parks south of Highway 10. It is along Riverdale Drive, east of Garnet Street.

Councilmember Jason Tossey asked if these courts are well used and questioned if the city had other large expenditures coming in its parks system.

Riverblood said the courts are “adequately used.”

“I’m in our parks system every day evaluating that with a critical eye,” he said.

With regards to projecting maintenance expenditures, Riverblood said, “We do not have a detailed plan for all of our infrastructure and exactly when we anticipate these maintenance plans to come due whether it be three years from now or 10 years from now.”

The city should have this plan and he said it could look at its park assets and useful life projections, but the expenditure demands will probably be greater than the revenue.

Riverblood and Finance Director Diana Lund said the city did not have a fund dedicated solely to parks maintenance until five or six years ago. None of this money can be used for new parks capital projects.

According to Lund, the parks maintenance fund is one of four funds that receive excess revenue at the end of each budget year. After the city makes sure it meets its general fund balance needs to cover beginning of the year expenditures, any other excess revenue is split between the parks maintenance, equipment, facilities and public improvement funds.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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