By DON STINE
An eight-court tennis center under construction on West Park Avenue in Ocean Township, a product of both private and public funding, is scheduled to open this spring.
“We are almost there and I think we will be open in the late spring Hopefully, we will also have the outdoor courts ready for the summer. This is a great project and wonderful for the community,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
A deal was signed to build close to a $3 million Park Avenue Tennis Center in front of the existing township pool complex on W est Park Avenue. The 58,000-square-foot facility, with a clock tower, will house eight indoor tennis courts and have a two-tiered pavilion where spectators can watch either indoor or outdoor matches. The existing outdoor tennis courts will remain but be moved to another adjacent location. They will be funded by the township.
The center will also contain locker rooms and bathrooms and artificial turf can be installed so that other sporting events can be held- the first indoor fields in the township.
“This is beneficial to our sports and recreational teams,” Siciliano said.
The existing parking lot at the site will remain unchanged.
Under the private public/partnership, the township will receive $500,000 for each of two consecutive 10-year leases, with a two-percent increase every year. Taxes are about $12,000 a year but the site is not assessed on the land, which is owned by the township.
The township will get the deed to the building once it is built but it will continue to be operated by the Park Avenue Tennis Center corporation until the two, 10-year leases are over. Then the township will operate it and be its primary user.
Sean McCarthy, general manager at the new tennis facility, said he hopes to open sometime in June.
“We had some bad weather so far but things are rolling good now and we hope to make a lot more progress in the next few weeks,” he said.
He said he has been getting a lot of inquiries from people about the new center.
“And we are getting very excited about the opening. Once the weather breaks, we hope to be really busy,” he said.
McCarthy said a grand opening of the new tennis center is planned for Sun., Aug. 26, with Wilson Racket Sports as a sponsor.
“We will have a comprehensive tennis programs- for all ages and all levels. We are very excited about finishing up and opening as soon as possible,” he said.
Siciliano said that another private/public partnership existed in the township for 70 years at the former Colonial Terrace (now the William F. Larkin) golf course. The township owned about 13 acres of the 39-acre golf course and that parcel was leased to the private golf course owner. The township now owns the entire course.
“We used to own about a third of the golf course so this is not a new concept. Of course, then we only got a dollar a year for the lease,” he said.