Addition is nearly complete

It's time to dig out the tennis racket from the back of the hall closet and work on that serve. The grand opening of the West River Community Center indoor tennis addition is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17. A recreational doubles tournament also...

It's time to dig out the tennis racket from the back of the hall closet and work on that serve.

The grand opening of the West River Community Center indoor tennis addition is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17. A recreational doubles tournament also is scheduled for the weekend. The courts open for play Monday, Feb. 19.

The addition has experienced numerous delays since its conception more than a year ago. A lengthy bidding process and hindrances during construction continually pushed the opening date back.

The completion date was originally scheduled for the end of November. But the addition ran into some installation issues at the beginning of the project with the initial concrete footings and foundation, Dickinson Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer said.

"The biggest holdup is how long it has taken to get to this point," Kramer added. "The other contractors obviously have other work and they all thought they would be doing this work two months ago. They're all doing the best they can to fit it in and make it work and get it done. It has taken a bit longer than we had expected."


Construction began in June 2006 after the project received approval from the city of Dickinson. The Southwest Tennis Club wanted to pursue the option of indoor tennis and approached the park district about the possibility two years ago. The indoor courts were part of the original plans for the community center and but were eliminated due to budget constraints, Kramer said.

The tennis association raised $120,000 toward construction for the project. Funds for the facility also came from the city of Dickinson through the ½-percent sales tax fund totaling $650,000 and from the park district through oil reserve moneys totaling $50,000.

"It's a tribute to the way the building is efficiently financially being run, but also to the tennis association for their persistence," Kramer said.

Dickinson's CA Contracting completed the general construction work, while Denny's Electric had the electric contract and Central Mechanical had the mechanical contract.

The public has been very patient with the delays, Kramer said.

"We're excited about finally getting it open and allowing them to see what's been happening the past six, seven months," he added. "We want to get people out on the courts and using them."

Despite the various setbacks, the project is still within the $820,000 budget, Kramer said. As of the first part of February, $437,000 of the $820,000 had been spent on the project, he added.

"As of right now, I don't see anything unexpected that's going to make us think that it's going to go way over $820,000," Kramer said.


At 15,500 square feet, the addition includes two tennis courts, a storage and maintenance area, three offices and space yet to be developed for indoor golf practice. The space connects to the existing overall facility on the west side of the main gyms. The only windows are on the east side from the indoor track looking down on the courts.

Lighting, a white fabric wrap, the playing surface and the height of the ceiling were the factors that played into making the indoor tennis addition top-notch, Kramer said.

"When we open the facility, we want it to be first class and for it to have that 'wow' factor," he added. "Whatever we do, we want to do it right. We don't want to hurry into it."

The area also features a 38-foot high ceiling. A ¼-inch poured rubber surface adds more cushion for people suffering from joint problems, Kramer said.

"It's a much more forgiving surface," he added.

A white fabric wrap covers the insulation and gives the space a finished look, Kramer said.

Final touches are still required in the areas of painting and carpeting, Kramer said. Nets and curtains are then put in place. The courts are separated with a net and surrounded by curtains.

It's nice for tennis players to finally have a home, Southwest Tennis Association President Jim Schwartz said.


"It was disappointing that it took this long, but two courts is better than no courts," he said. "We're happy."

The association is indebted to the city of Dickinson and the parks district for helping bring indoor tennis to the community, Schwartz said.

"We believe that it rounded out and completed the community building and lifted the community," he added. "These two courts are cutting edge, 21st century. It's top shelf."

The addition will open another market at the community center and allow for expansion of the tennis programs, Kramer said.

"Where we live, indoor recreation is very important," he added. "Tennis is a life-long sport, so it's not a sport that really has age limitations."

People can begin reserving times at the courts beginning Monday, Feb. 12. For full-center members, using the tennis addition is part of the fee. There also is an hourly rate of $4 per person for basic members or for daily usage. Some tennis equipment will be available for rental.

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