Fittest loser
Article updated: 6/13/2013 4:44 PM

Hanover Park Park District borrowing to replace tennis dome

Bob O’Brien, the Hanover Park Park District superintendent of parks, surveys the inflatable tennis dome after it collapsed in June 2012. District officials recently agreed to issue $500,000 in bonds for a replacement dome.

Bob O'Brien, the Hanover Park Park District superintendent of parks, surveys the inflatable tennis dome after it collapsed in June 2012. District officials recently agreed to issue $500,000 in bonds for a replacement dome.

 

Mark Welsh/Daily Herald, June 2012

Bob O’Brien, the Hanover Park Park District superintendent of parks, surveys the inflatable tennis dome after it collapsed in June 2012. District officials recently agreed to issue $500,000 in bonds for a replacement dome.

Bob O'Brien, the Hanover Park Park District superintendent of parks, surveys the inflatable tennis dome after it collapsed in June 2012. District officials recently agreed to issue $500,000 in bonds for a replacement dome.

 

Mark Welsh/Daily Herald, June 2012

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The indoor tennis dome at the Centre Court Athletic Club has collapsed one too many times for the liking of Hanover Park Park District officials, who this week approved a bond sale to fund its replacement.

The board of commissioners unanimously voted at a special meeting to borrow up to $500,000 for the project.

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"It's come to the end of its life a lot sooner than we had planned on," said Larry Wheeler, former longtime parks director and current part-time financial services administrator.

The dome, which houses four courts at the park district's Community Center on Walnut Avenue, opened in late 1999. It had an incident-free run until a few years ago, when a heavy storm caused it to collapse.

The air-supported structure, which has no steel or structural supports, came down again last June. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to completely deflate, so all of the 20 or so tennis players inside were able to escape unharmed.

Since then, however, Wheeler estimates the dome has collapsed another three times. The most recent came within the past few weeks.

"We had the manufacturer come to repair it again, but they noticed it was being stretched too thin," Wheeler said. "It's been overinflated, so the fabric is weakened."

Wheeler said the $500,000 should cover most of the engineering, fabric, lighting, HVAC system replacement and costs associated with the bond issue.

He said the park district doesn't have enough in its reserves to pay for the unexpected project because money has been earmarked for a playground replacement, renovation to parts of the athletic club, vehicle replacement and other priority items.

The relatively modest bond issue won't affect property tax bills due to the park district restructuring other existing debt, Wheeler added.

The dome, up and running for the moment, likely will close between three and four weeks for construction, Wheeler said. He expects the new structure to be ready for the fall tennis leagues.

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