The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 16, 2014

Councilors challenge court resurfacing

OTTUMWA — A project to resurface Ottumwa's tennis courts wasn’t as easy as scoring an ace in a tennis match.

During a public hearing Tuesday night, Parks Director Gene Rathje said tennis courts at Troeger Park and Ottumwa Park have not been resurfaced in eight years.

The city of Ottumwa would foot the majority of the resurfacing price tag using $25,000 in taxpayers dollars. An additional $10,000 in funding would be received from the Ottumwa School District, $5,000 from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, $2,000 from Ottumwa Tennis Club and $2,000 from an A Club donation.

In what seemed like a sure resurfacing victory, Councilmen J.R. Richards and Mitch Niner challenged the call.

Niner questioned why the city would be resurfacing over the already cracked pavement on the present courts.

Rathje said the plan was to take up as much of the old material as possible before the new paving was put down.

While that seemed OK with some councilmen, Richards wanted to know how the large crack on the north end of the Troeger Park courts was going to fixed. He said there was a large portion of the court that has sunk down with mud and water.

“This is a poor use of taxpayers' money to resurface if we don’t fix the problem,” said Richards. “It’s like putting a roof on a burning house. That’s not safe for anyone playing there.”

Concilman Bob Meyers disagreed. “Those courts are in a low region. It’s not a safety issue. There’s not a break in the concrete where someone would trip.”

“I disagree,” said Richards. “It is a safety issue. We’re talking about making Ottumwa shine. People travel here from all over Iowa to play tennis, yet we have no bathrooms and no water.”

The problem, council members were told, is a sewer line that runs underneath the courts. That sewer line will be closed down and a new sewer line will be rerouted around the present courts. The old sewer line would be filled in to help correct the problem.

Mayor Tom Lazio suggested the Public Works and Parks departments work together to get the problem fixed.

In the final vote 3-2 for court resurfacing project, Councilmen Matt Dalbey, Bob Meyers and Skip Stevens voted in favor of the project, while Niner and Richards cast the dissenting votes.

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