Town officials on Tuesday approved an approximately $20,000 contract with a Harwinton-based company to work on the increasingly popular tennis courts at Mead Park ahead of the 2022 season.
The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 in favor of a $21,415 contract with Putnam Tennis and Recreation LLC for grading, leveling and taping the courts. As it last year, the contract will include a bonus for getting the work done early.
“We offered a 15% bonus if they finished the work so we could get the courts open—that was very well received and we want to do the same thing again,” Parks Superintendent John Howe told the selectmen during their regular meeting at Town Hall. “Puts a little bit of skin in the game for them to not show up and try to open the beginning of June. With that, we also want to put in new tennis tapes and nails. With the increase usage last year, we regularly rotate them through in a couple of courts each year, we need to put down new tapes and nails.”
Sales of Mead Park tennis permits increased by 70% year-over-year in 2021, officials have said, and sign-ups for tennis clinics hit record-highs—part of a larger trend during the COVID-19 pandemic that saw a sharp rise in the popularity of outdoor sports such as platform tennis.
Prior to the pandemic, recreation officials found themselves defending the town’s tennis programs in the face of criticism that the clay courts at Mead were under-used. To ensure the town met its target opening date in early-May for the clay courts (four years ago, the town was late in opening the “Hartru” courts at Mead when a contracted company failed to deliver the clay material), the selectmen last year approved a contract that included the bonus.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan noted that there’s a total rebuild of the Mead Park courts in the budget for next year and asked whether the town could get through one more year without the work.
Howe said, “What it does is it sacrifices the condition of the courts. Even though we are rebuilding the courts, that doesn’t mean we can’t use the same tapes and nails.”
Selectman Kathleen Corbet asked whether the company had held its price from the prior year. Howe said it went up very little, about $1,000, “not surprising with labor issues.”