Upshur County Parks and Recreation Director Jeremiah McCourt, at left, and B-UHS Tennis Coach Jason Rock at Tuesday's Upshur County Board of Education meeting. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Commission, Upshur Schools to consider partnership to resurface tennis courts at county Recreational Park

BUCKHANNON – Members of the Upshur County Board of Education did not appear to find any ‘fault’ with a proposal to resurface the tennis courts located near Buckhannon-Upshur High School. In fact, the group spoke favorably about the plan served up by Jeremiah McCourt, Upshur County Parks and Recreation Director.

McCourt shared a proposal with BOE at their meeting Tuesday to get the tennis courts, which are not in good shape, up to speed and usable for students, tennis players and Upshur County residents as well.

McCourt began his presentation by letting folks know that there are more tennis courts in Upshur County – aside from those owned by West Virginia Wesleyan College.

“Right now, we have two batteries of three courts a piece,” McCourt said. “It is on the hill below the pool at the high school. The upper courts are usable, but the lower courts were designated as storage, and they have fallen by the wayside.”

McCourt said Buckhannon-Upshur High School has a tennis team, but the courts they use are in bad condition.

“The team mostly practices on the WVWC courts, which means players must drive in private vehicles from the school to practice,” McCourt said.

He said the upper tennis courts (located below the pool near B-UHS) were refinished in the 2000s. In 2020, Buckhannon-Upshur High School Head Tennis Coach Jason Rock approached the Upshur County Commission about the tennis courts, and the group started looking into Land and Water Conservation Grants.

“That was used primarily used in building the park in the first place,” McCourt said. “We have the application process started; we are working with Region VII [Planning & Development Council], and we are trying to get the grant in before Dec. 15, 2022. There are just some loose ends to tie up.”

McCourt said he came across a German company, Stockmeier Urethanes, that has their United States branch based in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

“They do everything from turf to playgrounds to oil and gas and tennis courts. I called them up and asked what kind of numbers they would have for us,” McCourt said as he passed around a piece of the new kind of service the German Company would use. “It is state-of-the-art, and we would be the first to use it in America and the third in the world to have that surface. It is not asphalt, but turf crumbles topped with urethane. With that, we can do a multi-court surface.”

McCourt said this would allow for pickleball courts and give students the opportunity to be outside.

“This group can do custom colors,” he said. “As far as maintenance, the warranty on the product is comparable and would be for 10-12 years depending on how we care for the surface. We could have it patched every five years.”

“Stockmeier will do all of this for $290,000, and they are donating the materials, what they estimate is $160,000 for this,” McCourt said. “The fencing cost $47,722.50, and the ADA-compliant parking is $5,000.”

To cover the costs of the project, McCourt said the application for the Land and Water Conservation Grant would be for $171,500, and he was asking for approval for the remaining balance – for half to come from the Upshur County Commission $85,750 and the remainder from the BOE of $85,750.

The item was not listed on Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education agenda, so a vote could not be made; however, BOE members agreed to draft a letter in support of the grant and the project and asked the proposal be placed on the next Upshur County Board of Education agenda for consideration.

Assistant Upshur County Administrator Cindy Hughes and Upshur County Commissioner Sam Nolte attended the BOE meeting to answer any questions about the proposal and funding application.

“We enlisted Region VII to write the grant, and we are providing administrative assistance,” Hughes said. “It will take about three months from when we apply for the grant to hear if we receive the grant. It is a reimbursement grant; we spend the money, and they reimburse us.”

“I am working with Seth Poling to make sure access to the tennis courts is ADA-compliant and that it is easy,” McCourt said.

“This would be huge for our program and for the kids,” Rock agreed. “It is well overdue.”

McCourt said they are anticipating work will begin on the courts in May 2023 and expect it will take approximately 45 days to finish.

BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples asked if the courts would be open to the public and McCourt replied, “Absolutely.”

Samples asked UCS Finance Director Jeff Perkins to look for where the money could come from in the budget.

The next regularly scheduled BOE meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Union Elementary School.

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