Snowmass council mulls bubble to winterize tennis courts | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass council mulls bubble to winterize tennis courts

Christine Ina Casillas
Snowmass Sun
Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Now that winter’s quickly approaching, the Snowmass Town Council recently discussed a special review application of winterizing two tennis courts with an enclosed bubble at the Snowmass Recreation Center.

The bubble would allow the tennis courts to be used during the winter for local players and guests.

An enclosed court for winter use is a “big need right now,” said Beth Mehall, a Snowmass Village resident and member of a grassroots organization called ASET.

“There are no public facilities in the valley right now open to anybody,” Mehall said. “Indoor public tennis is needed. It’s the fastest growing sport in America, and our high school team has a record number of kids this year.

“In winter, there is no place to play tennis unless you belong to a club.”

Because the town has limited capital costs, the ASET offered to fund the capital costs for a bubble over the tennis courts.

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The town will operate as the landlords of the bubble.

“We are not going to own the bubble,” Mehall said. “Snowmass Village will own it, but we’ll raise the money for it at no cost to the town.”

Mehall said the group started looking in Aspen, but Snowmass Village offered more flexibility that is cost effective and convenient not found anywhere else.

“People can play tennis, go work out. The lockers are right there. The [rec] center can schedule of combination of classes of tennis next to a work out or swimming. There is ample parking. It’s on the bus route. It’s convenient for the kids to get there after school,” Mehall said.

“People can’t afford memberships, not enough for it to make sense to them,” Mehall said. “This is for local kids, local players and guests. It’s affordable tennis completely accessible for guests and locals.”

The sport is growing, she said, with kids who are looking to play a little bit, play as a social sport or as a lifelong sport.

“Numbers are growing for adults and youth as well, especially the youth,” said Rob Simpson, head Aspen High School tennis coach. “This year, we have 43 youth kids out for the whole tennis team, one of biggest tennis teams we’ve heard of, especially when we go out of town. People didn’t realize we have that many kids, especially on our tennis team.”

Snowmass Village Town Councilman John Wilkinson questioned the size of the bubble, neighbor reactions – “it is a new neighborhood down there,” Wilkinson said – and capital improvement costs to the gateway into Snowmass Village as factors in the decision process.

“I know some people who come here on a ski vacation who don’t want to ski but play tennis instead,” Mehall said.

A public court is open for anybody, Mehall said. “We are adamant that this is a public facility and at a low cost. It guarantees better access to everybody.”