Tryon delays tennis court replacement to research asphalt

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TRYON – Tryon Town Council decided this week to hold off on replacing the Harmon Field tennis courts another month in order to see if the town can completely replace the courts with asphalt instead of flex courts.

The courts were damaged from a truck running through them in June during the barbecue festival.

Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, Sept. 20 and heard from town manager Zach Ollis who asked commissioners for direction.

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Ollis said he’s heard complaints from residents about the flex courts that were put down, including that they get slick and the asphalt underneath the courts is uneven, which causes dead spots in the courts.

“I’m asking for one more month to look into costs of ripping out everything and just putting back in asphalt,” Ollis said.

Resident Steve King said he would rather have asphalt but cautioned that the town may find the costs for asphalt will be prohibitive. King said the whole reason flex courts were installed before is the fact that the asphalt was in such bad condition with large cracks. The cheaper method was to go with flex courts instead of a complete replacement.

Ollis said he is asking to have another month to look at the options and at funding, such as grants.

King suggested that the courts be cleaned up in the meantime, and the two end courts that were not damaged be re-opened so they can be used. King said some people have already been using the two end courts.

Ollis agreed that to appease all sides, the courts can be cleaned up and the courts that can be used will be re-opened. He said he has had complaints from people that they can’t play.

Ollis said previously this month that the insurance settlement is approximately $50,000 to fix the courts, the damaged fencing and striping. He also said if the town goes with flex courts, the contractor has agreed to give the town a deal and replace three courts for the price of two.

The tennis courts were damaged after a truck leaving the Blue Ridge Barbecue and Music Festival in June ran through the courts and onto Harmon Field Road. The first two courts were heavily damaged as well as fencing, netting and benches. A town radar sign and a soccer goal were also damaged. The driver, of Charlotte, was charged by the N.C. Highway Patrol with driving while impaired and careless and reckless driving, according to police reports.

During the three months since the courts were damaged, the town closed down the courts and was negotiating with four insurance companies, including the driver’s insurance, the barbecue festival’s insurance, the company which owned the truck and the town’s insurance.

On Tuesday, Ollis thanked Brady Insurance Company’s Stephen Brady for all his work on the town’s behalf as well as Harmon Field Superintendent Travis Aldred for his work negotiating with the contractor.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioner Bill Crowell asked what happens if next year someone drives through the horse barns during the barbecue festival and the insurance says that was not part of the festival. Crowell said the town got about $2,100 from renting Harmon Field to the festival and the town has a contract with the festival that says the festival is responsible for any damages.

“What’s going to happen next time?” Crowell asked. “We need to start addressing that. Their insurance policy doesn’t look all that hot to me.”

Commissioner and mayor pro-tem Bill Ingham, who ran Tuesday’s meeting in mayor Alan Peoples’ absence, said the town may need to look at some stronger language in the contract.