St. Thomas continues to examine the feasibility of constructing six tennis courts at Mississippi River Boulevard and Goodrich Avenue on the south campus.
A decision will not be made until spring on whether and when to proceed with new courts because of several considerations, including funding, but the university is seriously considering the site to replace courts lost in May 2008 to construction of the Anderson Parking Facility at Cretin and Grand avenues. The earliest that construction could begin on new courts would be next summer.
St. Thomas briefed the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee (WSNAC) about the project on Tuesday. Based on comments the university has received, it has asked Ryan Companies, the contractor for the project, to examine whether the courts can be moved further north and east on the site, thus creating deeper setbacks from Goodrich and Mississippi River Boulevard.
The men’s and women’s intercollegiate tennis teams have spring and fall seasons. They have used off-campus courts the last two years for outdoor practice and competition and will do so again this year. St. Thomas prefers to identify a permanent location for courts on campus for the teams as well as for other students and faculty and staff members.
Several campus locations have been considered, and St. Thomas has concluded the Goodrich-Mississippi River Boulevard site is the only viable option for the $800,000 project. Other sites are too small or irregularly shaped to accommodate six courts, the standard number necessary for matches, or would involve the loss of too many surface parking spaces. There are no plans to build a parking lot adjacent to the courts.
St. Thomas is interested in establishing a tennis club to which neighbors could belong and have playing privileges on the courts. Summer tennis camps and lessons, which were held a number of years ago on the old courts, also are a possibility.
As designed by Ryan, the courts would be stacked in sets of three and would be surrounded by 10-foot high fences. There would be no lighting on the courts at this time. They would be set back 42 feet from Goodrich and between 114 feet (on the south, at Goodrich) and 65 feet (on the north) from Mississippi River Boulevard, which curves to the east in that area.
There are more than 90 trees on the site, which is bounded by Brady Educational Center on the east, Goodrich on the south, Mississippi River Boulevard on the west and a ravine on the north. About one third of the trees – oak, ash, maple, basswood and elm – would be removed for the courts and would be replaced by more than 50 trees, including deciduous trees and evergreens such as blue spruces. The new trees would help to screen the courts from views from the two streets.
The Campus Development Subcommittee of WSNAC will review the project at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, in the Brady Educational Center auditorium on the south campus. Neighbors will be invited to attend the meeting and offer their opinions.
If St. Thomas decides to move forward with the project, it will need site plan approval from the St. Paul Planning Commission before beginning construction.