This story has been updated to reflect that the fence around the courts was torn but has been repaired.
Two weeks after children begged Hilton Head Island leaders to save their tennis courts, plans for fixing them up are moving forward — even though there’s not enough money to do it.
At its Tuesday meeting, Hilton Head Town Council unanimously approved a recommendation that will allow staff to move forward with redeveloping the 1.4-acre site by adding, among other things, a community building, pickleball courts and more parking.
The problem that arises, however, is how to pay for the improvements.
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“The scope of the project as suggested exceeds the funds available,” said Scott Liggett, the town’s director of public projects and facilities and chief engineer.
There’s about $300,000 available to replace the courts, he said, but that’s not enough to add a community building and more parking.
Town manager Steve Riley said during Tuesday’s meeting that Town Council would be asked to approve any additional funding needed. He said it is unclear if the project will be partially done now with the available funds or if it will be put on hold until there’s enough money to cover all of the improvements.
Liggett said staff plans to ask for more funding for this project in the fiscal year 2019 capital improvement plan.
Currently, the tennis courts are cracked and paint-stained, only two of the four courts have nets. The chain-link fence that surrounds the courts was torn in several places, but was repaired by the town last month.
James Ackerman, board president of Cordillo Courts, the condominium complex split in half by the courts, said the area is often littered and attracts illegal parking, illegal vendors and drug deals. At the last Town Council meeting on Dec. 5, he showed photos of the alleged activities.
Ackerman approached the town in September asking for the courts to either be cleaned up or sold to the condominium complex.
But children who attend Neighborhood Outreach Connection, a nonprofit aimed at fighting poverty that operates out of the condominium complex, didn’t want to lose their only play area. And Town Council agreed, opting not to sell the courts.
Besides looking into how to redevelop the courts, staff also explored the possibility of creating a new park. But according to town documents, the only available town property that has not been developed was deemed “not suitable for development,” because it has dunes and wetlands.
Staff noted in town documents the planned Coligny Park, which will include a playground, will be half a mile from the tennis courts. The project, however, was put on hold earlier this year when Riley said the town was short on cash after depleting reserves for Hurricane Matthew recovery.