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City to replace tornado-damaged tennis courts

Wadena Public Works Director Ron Bucholz said Dec. 28 that by summer of 2013, the city plans to at least partially replace three tennis courts that were destroyed in the tornado that moved through Wadena in 2010.

The concrete slab where the courts once stood is still visible at its location at Seventh Street Southwest and Franklin Avenue, near Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School.

Bucholz said one city plan called for only two of the three courts to be replaced, which would have made the spaces between each court wider, potentially allowing competition play to occur there.

However, City Administrator Brad Swenson said all three courts may be replaced if enough funds are secured. He added that the city has enough money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and insurance payouts from the tornado to cover two courts. In order to lay down more concrete to allow for three courts, the city would use whatever FEMA money is left over from renovations to the warming house near the city's hockey rink, Swenson said.

"Since the tornado, they haven't been available for public use, so I think it's putting back an amenity that had got used a lot," Swenson said.

WDC already has new tennis courts, but a disadvantage is that Wadena citizens have to share the courts with the school, and the school courts don't have lights to illuminate games, Bucholz said.

"The city's ... had lights on them, and they were able to play later in the evening," Bucholz said. "That's what we're hoping to recreate, that atmosphere."

As they move forward, the Wadena Park Advisory Board will recommend to the city council what specifically should be done with the courts, but the council has the final say, Swenson said.

"I think it's a good thing that we replace what we lost in the tornado," said Sara Ross, chair of the park advisory board. "As part of the parks board, our goal is to have great parks that anybody in Wadena can use, and to have a lot of variety."