Progress on new tennis courts continuing
Thomaston City Council approves high mast lighting for courts
by Ashley Biles Associate Editor
By this time next year citizens should have two new, regulation size tennis courts to play on at the Greatest Generation Memorial Park. The first $200,000 of funding for the renovation of the two existing Silvertown Tennis Courts comes from the 2011 SPLOST in which they were designated a specific community-wide project; if the project goes over that amount, the tab will be picked up by the City of Thomaston. The Greatest Generation Park committee held a meeting last week to discuss the lighting of the courts and decided to go with the high mast lighting that is typically seen on sports fields.
The committee had two choices of lighting to decide between, including the selected high mast and a low mast type, also known as shoe-box lighting. While the shoebox type lighting would cost less and be more easily accessible for maintenance, several committee members who are avid tennis players stated they do not offer adequate lighting for playing at night.
“I have played on courts with both kinds of lights,” said committee member Alison Uphold. “As a tennis player, the lights that are very tall are the ones we like when we are playing at night because when we lob, those lights don’t get in the way like the shoebox lights do.”
One concern that was raised about using the high mast lights dealt with the amount of light pollution that would be given off because of them; the shoebox lights cannot be seen as far away because they do not give off as much light. Committee member Gary Self stated since there are already tall lights on the courts now, he did not think having the taller lights on the new courts would be an issue, but City Manager Patrick Comiskey stated they do get complaints about the existing lights. However, the committee discussed the taller lights would offer better lighting if tennis tournaments were ever played in the area and could possibly attract more people to play on the courts. The lights will be set on a timer like the existing ones are now so that they will not run all night. A definite cut-off time has not been decided as of yet.
Another concern that was brought up deals with people using the courts for things other than tennis. Self noted that he has seen several groups of children playing wiffle ball on the courts and he is concerned that if activities such as that continue with the new courts it will cause damage. He continued saying the kids that are out there are not juvenile delinquents, they are good kids, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed now. Other members agreed, but also noted that once the new courts are built, they feel there will be plenty of tennis players to occupy the courts and there will not be as much of a chance for someone to try and play anything but tennis on them. Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold stated that something the city may need to look into is their park ordinances to see if there needs to be any updates or possibly increasing the fines for violations to let the perpetrators know they mean business.
During the meeting, the committee spoke with the jb+a, inc. the planning and landscape architecture firm that is working on the project about other aspects of the tennis courts. The regulation size courts will have the blue, green and white color scheme that is seen on many courts nowadays. Also, grading of the land will be done to bring the new courts up to street level, which will help with the drainage issues that previously left them unable to be used after a shower of rain. The angle of the courts will be changed from what they are currently due to the fact that right now only one is a regulation size and therefore several trees will have to be removed from the area surrounding the courts. There are plans for seating, a new sidewalk between the courts with steps down from the parking lot and handicap accessible ramps also.
“As a long time tennis player, I am just excited that the Thomaston-Upson community will have a facility of this kind,” stated committee member Gary Self.
If everything goes according to plan, the project will be bid out by the end of this year and the courts should be finished by next summer.
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