SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Community Tennis Association held a public open house Wednesday to hear feedback on their newest indoor tennis facility proposal.
The tennis association, a nonprofit, has long searched for a location to build an indoor facility, one that gives the public a space to play tennis in the winter months.
Their newest proposal would place a tent-shaped covering over two of the courts at Thorne-Rider Park. They would draw pickleball lines on the two courts that they would cover. There are four courts at the facility, split by handball areas.
“Our plan is to cover the north two courts,” SCTA leader and longtime Sheridan tennis instructor Lorna Brooks said Wednesday. “We’re anticipating that this will draw a lot of participation during the winter and provide an opportunity for activity in the winter.”
Two North Main residents showed up Wednesday in opposition — the SCTA mailed letters to area residents — citing concerns mainly with the proposed appearance of the enclosure. The building, Brooks said, would last about 30 years and would be more than 37 feet tall.
Besides the two from the public, the hourlong session was attended by supporters; Sheridan High School two-time state tennis champion Julia Fenn and her mother, Armella, as well as others from the SCTA.
Brooks said they received “unanimous support” from the North Main Neighborhood Association when they attended a meeting presenting the idea, and have been in discussion with the city of Sheridan from the start of their planning.
During the September regular meeting of the Sheridan Recreation District, the SCTA presented their plans to the board. The SCTA would become a sub-lessee of the courts from the Sheridan Athletic Association, which would share management and maintenance with the SRD. The SRD board pointed out in September that they would write a memorandum of understanding if the project moved forward, lining out things like utility payments and scheduling. The SRD has written a letter of support for the project to the tennis association.
Brooks said that they have explored Thorne-Rider as an option in the past, and while the SAA was not in favor then have since shifted their position.
“The Sheridan Athletic Association, who we met a couple of years ago and they were not excited about it, they are now,” Brooks said. “I think partly our membership, we used to have a small membership maybe 35, and now we have 207.”
The courts were resurfaced this year for around $25,000, something that has to be done every five to seven years, and Brooks said enclosing the courts out of the elements would reduce that cost.
The group has struggled for years in their search for an indoor facility, and insisted that they’re going through all the right avenues and are willing to work with the public.
“We want to do this the right way,” Brooks said.
In regard to the dissention Wednesday night, Brooks said she thinks the benefits out-weigh any possible negatives.
“It benefits an awful lot of people, plus the fact that adults, kids from the high school team will have a place to train in inclement weather and that’s a priority for us,” she said.
Brooks has been a youth tennis instructer in Sheridan for years, and part of the SCTA’s mission is to expand areas outside the limited indoor space for year-round youth tennis development.
“Part of that will be, if there’s opposition, we’ll take that to the city,” she said. “We only have X-amount of dollars. We have $200,000 now, and a I can see us raising $200-or $300 (thousand) more but I can’t see us raising much more than that.”
Even with the struggles the SCTA has had in finding a location in the area for their facility, they said this was in no way a last resort, as they called it “the best option.”
“We’ve been around the world,” Brooks said.
Another public open house will be held tonight at 5 p.m. at the Trails End Motel.