City Councilor Armand Bolduc, Kermit and Nancy Merrill of the Leavitt Park Association, Mayor Ed Engler, Laconia Parks & Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy, Parks & Recreation Commission member Mitch Hamel, Bob Ronstadt of the Lakes Region Tennis Association and Tony Felch of the Leavitt Park Association marked the official opening of the new courts at Leavitt Park in Laconia yesteday. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Leavitt Park courts reopen with fresh facilities
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The city has a committee that carefully ranks proposed capital improvement projects and City Manager Scott Myers makes recommendations on which of those project should get funding.
But most years, City Council members find a way to fund things that don't rise to the top of his list. These are items that may not be overly expensive but are viewed as important in creating an attractive community.
Such was the case with the $78,000 reconstruction of the Leavitt Park tennis courts, which reopened Wednesday with a fresh asphalt surface and new fences, nets and paint. For years, the fence was rusted, the court surface uneven and cracked.
Councilor Armand Bolduc, who was at the courts Wednesday along with other city officials, said the project has been needed for some time.
“I'm glad we finally got it done,” he said. “I fought for it.”
A new tennis court may not seem like a big deal, but things like this are important for Laconia, he said.
“It's good for people to exercise, particularly older people, but younger people, too,” he said.
Leslie Lovely, of the Lakes Region Tennis Association, was one of the first people to try out the court. On the other side of the net was her son, Andrew Sykes, 20. He said he was rusty but he quickly warmed up in the 80-degree heat and gave his mother a good game under sunny skies.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department has requested the tennis court work since at least 2013, although it has never won a recommendation from the city manager.
In 2013, the tennis court refurbishment was ranked No. 37 on the Capital Improvement Program Committee's list of projects. It moved up four slots on the list the next year. In 2015, it was No. 26. Last year, it was No. 17, and the City Council voted to pay for it out of a reserve fund.
Parks and Recreation priorities are often among those that don't make the cut for recommended projects but get funding through what is essentially a City Council earmark.
This year, that was the case for a $40,000 expenditure to study erosion at city beaches, $35,000 for a new fence at Opechee Park, $25,000 for park basketball court improvements and $20,000 for a paved pathway through Opechee Park, connecting the middle school campus with North Main Street.
Last year, in addition to the tennis court work, the City Council funded Memorial Park softball field bleachers at a cost of $15,000 and playground revitalization work costing $15,000, both of which were requested by the Parks and Recreation Department but were not among the projects recommended by the city manager.
Councilor Henry Lipman, who is on the Capital Improvement Program Committee, said people appreciate projects that improve the city's quality of life.
“Sometimes you want to do something to make things right,” he said. “The citizenry values certain projects or repairs.
“The council is interested in having a strategic planning process and having amenities in the community as a way of making the city more attractive. Our parks and trails and beaches are amenities that are valued.”
Kevin Dunleavy, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, values this attitude.
“I don't have any expectations, but these projects are certainly things that need to be done,” he said. “I always appreciate when they can make it work.”
Leslie Lovely returns a shot to her son, Andrew Sykes, on the newly refinished tennis court at Leavitt Park. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
- Written by Rick Green
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 819