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June storm accelerates GBRC tennis court repair timeline
GBRC awarded SPARK funding, Kiwanis Club Grant
Tennis court fencing
The fencing around the Veterans Park tennis courts, which was damaged during a severe thunderstorm in June, is scheduled to be replaced this fall. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

The Great Bend Recreation Commission Board on Monday approved a Request for Bids document to replace fencing at the Veterans Park tennis courts after the fencing sustained damage during a severe storm in June.

GBRC Executive Director Diann Henderson said replacing the nearly 50-year-old fencing has been in their plans for a while, but the project was initially slated for completion in the spring of 2021. However, the fencing sustained significant damage during the June storm that brought estimated 80-plus mile per hour winds to the city, when a set of bleachers was blown into the fencing on the east courts.

The commission looks to replace the current fencing with a black galvanized chain link fence. The hope is to modernize the half-century old facilities which are used by several local entities, as well as the public at large.

“Our number one concern is to make a nice playing environment for not only the school district players, but for the public,” Henderson said, noting the courts are also heavily used by the public for both tennis and pickleball, and heavily used for both lessons and tournaments.

The tentative goal now, Henderson said, is to begin work on the project later this fall after a previous lighting project at the courts has been completed, pending receipt of bids. 

Because multiple area school districts use the courts for tennis competitions, the commission hopes to have the work completed prior to the spring tennis season. The tentative target date for completion is Feb. 1, 2021.

Now that the bid-letting document has been approved, GBRC will solicit bids for the project from local and area fencing vendors until Friday, Oct. 2. The document will be listed on the GBRC website, Bids will be presented for review and approval to the board at their next meeting, Monday, Oct. 12.

Along with the fencing, GBRC has begun discussions with the City of Great Bend on adding concrete extensions around the outside of the two courts to address accessibility and drainage issues on the court. While they would like to do the work in conjunction with the fencing project, a full plan has not been developed yet on that work. Henderson is still working with the city but the hope is to have a plan to bring before the board at its October meeting.

Henderson noted the close partnerships GBRC has with both the City of Great Bend and USD 428 have been instrumental in being able to move forward with both projects.

GBRC awarded extra funding

The board also received positive news in the form of additional funding awards Monday.

First, the Great Bend Kiwanis Club awarded a grant of $7,425.90 from the Bill J. McKown Memorial Endowment Fund with the Golden Belt Community Foundation. The funds are designated to assist with any special projects the commission undertakes at Veterans Park. 

Henderson said those funds have not yet been allocated to any particular project. In the past, these types of grants have been used for a variety of projects at the park, including benches and shade structures at the toddler playground. Henderson said she will be visiting more with the Kiwanis Club to determine exactly where this grant will be allocated.

Also, the commission was notified the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce approved GBRC to receive SPARK COVID Relief Funds through Barton County for expenditures related to COVID-19 impacts to GBRC’s operations. The exact amount they will receive has not yet been determined, though Henderson expects to hear back from the county, through whom the funds are distributed, within 40-45 days.

Because the funds are outside the regular budget, the board had to approve receipt of the additional funds in order to be able to allocate and spend those funds once they are received.

Expenses Henderson highlighted were the disinfectant and backpack disinfectant units utilized at the baseball fields during tournaments, expenses for COVID-19 related signage used at its facilities, and infrastructure costs connecting with setting up essential GBRC employees to work remotely, plus other COVID-19 related expenditures.

In other business

- The board approved the purchase of two floor cleaning/disinfecting units from Park City-based Massco Maintenance Supply Co. in the amount of $8,780.14 at the recommendation of GBRC staff. The smaller units are expected to upgrade the efficiency of more frequent floor cleaning and disinfecting. Henderson said the units are more efficient in the small floor areas, such as under tables and chairs, as well as the balcony seating in the City Auditorium.

- The board approved the purchase of a new T-500 Tennant orbital 28-inch walk behind floor scrubber, also from Massco Maintenance Supply Co., in the amount of $9,999.99. The scrubber is intended to replace one that was purchased in 2008 that has become inoperable. It is one of two walk behind floor scrubbers the commission currently has.

- The GBRC board received results from the recent public feedback survey they conducted in conjunction with the City of Great Bend. According to City Administrator Kendal Francis, the city has not yet reviewed the results, and no action regarding those results has yet been determined.

- The board reviewed the GBRC fall sports and activity timeline.