Photo: Winn Brook tennis courts.
Belmont High Tennis tennis teams will be playing its matches at the courts at Winn Brook Elementary School after Superintendent John Phelan announced a decision by school officials that the sport will not be located on the campus of the new school.
Phelan told the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee on Tuesday morning, Jan. 7 that building five tennis courts west of Harris Field was unfeasible with the current needs for the land including sub-varsity playing fields for softball, baseball, field hockey and soccer and the likely construction of a new public/private skating rink.
“The reason why we chose tennis was not our lack of respect for the program … but the best universal use of all the space not only on campus but around town,” said Phelan. While a fall and spring sport could be located at the Winn Brook, building a new baseball field at the Winn Brook would impact youth club teams such as soccer, recreational sports and educational programs that currently use the ground.
“It’s a real ripple effect across the town’s spaces which we have to be respectful of,” said Phelan.
The push to keep five courts on the new campus came from student-athletes, their supporters and residents who play tennis who said all varsity sports should take place at the high school. The campaigners also said taking away the court was done in a less than open process.
A reassessment was conducted over three meetings in December by Phelan, Assistant Town Manager Jon Marshall and Belmont High Athletic Director Jim Davis. In the end, the “biggest bang for our dollars” was to keep the existing plans “that will provide the most access to the limited space we have.”
The superintendent pointed out that nearly half of the team teams in the Middlesex League that Belmont is a member play outside of their campus’.
It was determined that travel to and from Winn Brook will be lessened once an underpass is completed at the commuter rail line between Alexander Avenue and the new school.
Phelan noted that including tennis courts to the site would likely delay the issuance of the request for proposal for the new skating rink which will be voted on Tuesday night by the school committee.
To lessen the blow of having to play offsite, Phelan will be working with the town to request funds from the Community Preservation Committee to build two new courts at Winn Brook to allow for regular season and post-season tournament play.