Tom Bills, senior construction project manager for Cobb’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department, said the county had budgeted Fair Oaks Park’s improvements at $1.95 million, although he did not say what the center itself would cost because construction companies are still in the process of bidding on the right to build the facilities.
He said the more the new tennis center costs, the fewer funds would be available go toward other planned park improvements, which include electrical and irrigation upgrades to athletic fields and new scoreboards.
The new facility will house a larger tennis merchandise shop, additional storage and improved restrooms, Bills said. It will have a large covered porch area for spectators and players awaiting the start of their match, he added.
Construction companies must turn in their bids to the county by July 29, Bills said.
He noted construction typically begins about two months after the bids are submitted, estimating the project would be underway by early fall.
Construction is scheduled to take about eight months, Bills said.
The existing tennis center buildings will be torn down to make way for the new facilities, said Pete Sutton, head of Sutton Architectural Services, the firm Cobb tapped to design the project.
“They’ve exceeded their usefulness,” Sutton said of the current centers.
Bills said the facilities dated back to the 1970s and were so old that maintenance could no longer keep them in adequate shape.
Commissioner Helen Goreham, who represents the area surrounding Fair Oaks Park, said she is glad plans to replace the center are underway.
“Renovations are pretty badly needed,” Goreham said. “It lacked, in my opinion, adequate bathroom facilities and also needed renewal of its air conditioning and heating.”
Goreham said a relatively large portion of the funds from a one percent sales tax increase approved for 2011 went toward major repairs and improvements to parks, many of which were at least 30 years old, she noted.
“That was the nature of the last SPLOST,” she said.
Bills said the 2011 SPLOST was the first to include projects from the parks and recreation department. The funding provided by the tax revenue allowed the parks department to do “substantial renovations” for the first time in a long while, he added.
He said there are 172 projects across 50 different parks and facilities that were approved in the last SPLOST, only a quarter of which were completed as of the end of June.
While Goreham said her proposed 2016 SPLOST list contains some parks projects, she noted the new round of funding would not continue the trend of major park renovations in her district.
Park projects from her proposed SPLOST list — which is scheduled to go before the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday and voters Nov. 4 — include new parking and bathroom facilities at Green Meadows Preserve off Dallas Highway and Leone Hall Price Park off Stilesboro Road, Goreham said.