Pasco County residents longing for greater tennis opportunities soon will have that wish granted.
Todd Vande Berg, planning director for the city of Zephyrhills, unveiled plans for a two-story, outdoor tennis facility, designed to United States Tennis Association (USTA) standards.
The Zephyrhills City Council gave Vande Berg a consensus to proceed with an engineered site plan and an architect plan, at its Nov. 14 meeting.
The facility, presently known as the Zephyrhills Tennis Center, will be located on 4.7 acres of donated land at The District at Abbott’s Square, a new real estate development situated north of Dean Dairy Road and west of Simons Road.
The estimated $2.19 million project will likely include 10 courts (eight clay, two hard surface), three mini-courts and one exhibition court.
The tennis center is also expected to feature a pro shop, a multifunctional community room, and two office spaces.
A second level, if added, will house an observation deck, players lounge, and concessions.
The facility was initially expected to feature a “50-50 mix” of five clay and five hard surface courts. However, the USTA advised Vande Berg to plan for additional soft surface, clay courts.
“Most people prefer playing on a soft court,” Vande Berg said. “Wherever you go now, most courts in Florida are going with a majority clay courts.”
Though ground has yet to break on the forthcoming project, the planning director has already received several inquiries for its use.
“A lot of interest is out there,” Vande Berg said. “I’ve gotten calls from people in New England who want to run the facility. We have colleges asking if it’s going to be available this summer for training.”
The facility, too, opens the door to hosting local and regional USTA-sanctioned events.
“We could bring in some pretty good sized tournaments,” Vande Berg said.
“It will be an economic draw for not only Zephyrhills, but all of Pasco County,” he said.
“You could bring in probably 50 to 100 kids and their families that would be staying the weekend to play in tournaments,” he added.
Vande Berg said the tennis center will be funded over the next two fiscal years. He noted that recreation impact fees from The District at Abbott’s Square and other developments should total about $2.13 million, all but financing the entire project.
Other possible funding sources include: USTA grants, Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) grants, Penny for Pasco, and partnerships with Pasco County Parks and Recreation, and Pasco County Tourism.
“This isn’t a city of Zephyrhills project. This is a countywide project,” Vande Berg said. “There’s going to be a lot of countywide people using this facility.”
Memberships will be required to access the facility, though Vande Berg indicated that prices will be “more economical” for Zephyrhills residents, compared to non-residents.
“We need to fully vet that aspect out,” he said, “to see exactly what our community is comfortable with…”
Vande Berg and City Manager Steve Spina have sought direction from other tennis facilities in nearby communities, including Auburndale and Plant City.
The eight-court Cindy Hummel Tennis Center, in Auburndale, has yearly memberships ranging from $107 to $240, for unlimited court access. Meanwhile, the 10-court Plant City Tennis Center offers individual annual passes for $350, and family annual passes for $700.
In east Pasco, many residents have pleaded for additional tennis facilities and programming.
During a May open house at the Alice Hall Community Center in Zephyrhills, several residents told The Laker/Lutz News the foremost reason they use Zephyr Park is because of its tennis courts.
One east Pasco resident, Fred Hall, was particularly vocal about the subject. “The single most used thing in (the) park is the tennis courts,” Hall said, in May. “Those are used in the morning from 7 a.m., until the lights go off at night. Seven days a week.”
Published November 23, 2016