Tennis courts at Conard and Hall have been resurfaced, but the project won’t be finalized until June.
By Ronni Newton
Several capital improvement projects that affect West Hartford’s recreational facilities are in progress or will soon be underway, including the replacement of tennis courts at both high schools and the repair of the pool at Eisenhower Park.
Reconstruction of 24 tennis courts – 12 each at Conard and Hall high schools – began in September 2022, with the majority of the cost associated with the project funded by a $3 million grant approved by the State Bond Commission last March.
Replacement of the courts benefits the high school tennis teams as well as the public. The courts are free and accessible when not in use by the high school teams, and also serve as the site for state high school tennis championship competition.
Director of Leisure and Social Services Helen Rubin-Turco said that as the town’s tennis and basketball courts have reached the end of their lifespan, they are being replaced with a surface that utilizes new technology. “Post-tensioned concrete is a rigid, reinforced concrete pavement,” Rubino-Turco said. “Its design eliminates the jointing and cracking that often plague asphalt courts, with a lifespan almost twice as long as an asphalt court.”
Rubino-Turco said the tennis courts at both Conard and Hall are nearly finished, and the nets have been installed and temporary lines have been painted so they can be used by the teams for the spring season. She said the final playing surface will be installed in June, once the temperatures are warmer.
The temporary surface doesn’t meet regulation standards, however, so the high schools’ varsity teams will be playing their matches at alternative sites this spring. Conard’s boys and girls varsity teams will play at Wolcott Park, while Hall boys and girls will play at the Hartford Tennis Club on Flagg Road. Two courts at Buena Vista and two courts at Whiting Lane will be back-up locations for varsity matches, Rubino-Turco said. The JV and freshman teams will play on the high school courts.
Rubino-Turco said Leisure Services and the West Hartford Public Schools athletic director have traditionally worked closely together regarding use of athletic facilities, and for years Wolcott Park has been used by Conard’s tennis program, usually for the lower level players.
In addition to the combined 24 new tennis courts at Conard and Hall, the town has replaced tennis and basketball courts at Wolcott Park, the Buena Vista Recreation Complex, Whiting Lane Park, and Kennedy Park. At both Wolcott and Buena Vista, six pickle ball courts have been installed in place of two of the tennis courts.
Another high-profile project related to a West Hartford recreational facility is replacement of the pool and pool house at Eisenhower Park. A serious problem was found with the Eisenhower pool in the spring of 2021, and it has been closed to the public for the past two summers.
Replacement was originally planned so that the new pool and pool house would be ready for use in the summer of 2023, but in the fall Rubino-Turco told the Town Council’s Human and Community Services Committee that bids had come in much higher than expected. The lowest of three or four bids the town received for replacement of the pool and pool house was $4.4 million, Town Manager Rick Ledwith said, and that was far in excess of the $2.5 million the town had budgeted through he capital improvement fund.
“It is our intention to temporarily fix the pool this spring to make the pool operable for the summers of 2023 and 2024,” Rubino-Turco told We-Ha.com this week. The repair to the pool will involve saw-cutting the section where the crack is located, patching it, and re-caulking the entire bottom of the pool, at a cost of roughly $40,000, according to Ledwith.
“We plan to rebid the construction project this spring for a construction period between August 2024 and May 2025,” Rubino-Turco said.
Another recent upgrade to a town sports facility is the installation of temporary fencing at the Conard baseball field. Conard does not have a permanent outfield fence, but the baseball team’s booster club and other volunteers installed a temporary fence for the season last weekend. The banners were donated by MLB coach and Conard alum Gary LaRocque.
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