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New recreation complex to serve Troy residents, university and schools

Managing Editor

Ground will be broken this year on 12 new tennis courts that will be funded through the city of Troy for public use, the Troy City School System and Troy State University, according to local officials.

The new recreational complex – a joint agreement between the three groups – will serve TSU, the schools and the general public, said Troy Mayor Jimmy C. Lunsford.

"We want this facility to be one that serves all of Troy," Lunsford said. "We are currently applying for a $250,000 grant to help with the expense."

The grant, if approved, will take some of the bite out of the complex’s projected cost of $600,000, Lunsford said. The balance will be paid jointly by TSU, the city of Troy and the Troy School System.

The new facility will be built along Elm Street on TSU property that borders the university’s golf course. Lunsford said that TSU has donated the land and has agreed to foot the entire expense of a proposed softball field that will serve the university, plus one third of the cost of the tennis facility.

"We feel that it may come in at less than $600,000," Lunsford said. "The cost has been revised downward."

Lunsford said the city is participating in the project due to the lack of adequate tennis facilities in the city.

"The high school’s tennis courts are inadequate, as are the courts on the college property," Lunsford said. "This project will help the city in a number of ways as well beyond simply providing residents with a place to play tennis."

Among the fringe benefits to the city, Lunsford said, will be an increase in traffic to town due to the fact that TSU and Charles Henderson High School will have a place to host tennis tournaments.

"An awful lot of people come in to town for these types of events – particularly the Troy State tournaments – and that brings quite a bit of revenue to the city," he said.

TSU is currently unable to host tennis tournaments due to inadequate facilities. Lunsford said that colleges must have 12 courts to be able to host tournaments.

"It really is a good deal," he said. "Troy State is providing the land and is paying one third of the cost, leaving the city and the school system to pay the remainder. I think it’s worth that to the city."

Lunsford said the facility will be open at all times for members of the community who want to play tennis, with the only exception being when TSU tournaments are being held.

Originally plans called for the facility to be constructed almost directly across the street from Charles Henderson Middle School, but recent meetings and findings have pushed it farther up the hill, moving the courts near the TSU gymnasium and pool.

"The house and barn will be removed," Lunsford said. "And the facility will sit a little closer to the pool and gym on the west than we originally planned, but those facilities will be left in place."

The softball field will be farther to the south, but near enough the courts to share parking space.

"That’s one of the benefits we will see," he said. "The parking area can be utilized by both the softball field and the tennis courts."

Lunsford said the approval process will take several weeks and there will be additional planning done before ground is broken.

"To say that we would break ground in late spring – April or May – is extremely optimistic," Lunsford said. "But we should be able to break ground not much later than that."

Currently the city is working in the area replacing sewer pipes, but Lunsford said the work being done is not related to the new complex.

Lunsford said TSU is planning to break ground on the softball field "in the next couple of months."