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County to add tennis courts at park

Tennis advocate Wanda Bashen showed her pleasure with the County Commission's decision Tuesday by taking off her sweat shirt.

The T-shirt beneath it read: "Delta Woods Tennis Park."

Such a park does not exist yet, but the board's action should make it a reality as soon as four months from now.

"I really want to thank you people you've done good by us," Bashen told the commission.

She led a group of Spring Hill residents in a fight for additional tennis courts at Delta Woods for more than six months. Long lines of elderly tennis players form at the four existing courts there every morning, the players told commissioners at a Feb. 3 public hearing. They also said at least four more courts were needed for tournaments and what could be considered a "tennis park."

The commission decided at that meeting that the four courts were inadequate to serve all of Spring Hill and asked Pat Fagan, the manager of the county's Community Services Department, to come up with a plan to squeeze more courts into Delta Woods.

He came back with the plan Tuesday that the commission approved unanimously. It will cost the county about $60,000 to build four courts directly north of the current courts, Fagan told the commissioners. The plan also calls for an additional $10,000 to resurface the existing courts.

The money for the new courts will come from a fund of about $220,000 collected from impact fees in the district.

Before construction can begin, the county needs a permit from the Southwest Florida Water Management District for the drainage plan, Fagan said.

It will be 30 days before the project is ready to go out to bid, Fagan said, and at least another 30 days before the county will decide on a contractor.

The construction of the courts is a fairly simple job, requiring about three weeks.

Commission Chairman John Richardson said that he had toured the park after the Feb. 3 meeting and had agreed with Fagan that the area north of the current courts was the best place for the new courts.

His only reservation was that "there is one nice oak tree that is going to have to be removed from the site," Richardson said.

The tree was not larger than the 18 inches in diameter that would qualify it as a specimen tree under the county's tree ordinance, Richardson said.