CASPER, Wyo. — The Natrona County School District and the City of Casper are contemplating entering an agreement that would allow NCSD to develop a ten-court tennis facility at Highland Park.
The NCSD Board of Trustees is set to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding between the city and the school district during a work session on Monday, August 23.
Under the draft agreement, NCSD would promise to invest $2-5 million in developing the tennis facility. NCSD Board of Trustees Chair Ray Catellier told the Casper City Council on Tuesday, August 17 that the district wants to create a ten-court facility at Highland Park.
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That would involve rehabilitating four existing tennis courts that are located adjacent to Beverly Street near the Casper Recreation Center. NCSD would add six new courts, repair the parking lot by the courts, install a bathroom and concessions facility and add pathways and possibly seating in the area.
Should the agreement move forward, the city would give 5.5 acres to the district provided that NCSD:
- Invest $2-5 million to develop the new facility
- Allow the public to use the courts when school practices or competitions are not being held
- Manage and maintain the facility
- Be responsible for damage and liability insurance
The draft memorandum of understanding notes that the existing facility is utilized for tennis and also has a gazebo and parking facility that “benefit the city recreation center.” It adds that NCSD has identified a need for more tennis facilities for high school tennis programs and that the agreement would provide benefits to both the district and the city.
Should the agreement be approved, NCSD would be responsible for surveying the property at its expense. The district would then be responsible to develop a project plan “within a reasonable time.” That plan would need to identify how many courts will ultimately be added and what other improvements would be made.
Once the district pays for and obtains site plans and sketches, the NCSD Board of Trustees would need to approve this plan and this would need to be permitted through the city.
With approval from both the city council and the school district’s trustees, the city would transfer ownership of the facility to NCSD via a special warranty deed. The city would have the right to revert the agreement if the district does not adhere to the terms of the agreement. If NCSD does not complete development of the facility within four years of an agreement being approved, the property would automatically revert to the city.
“So long as the Property is utilized by the District as a tennis facility, open to the public as contemplated in this MOU, no reversion shall occur,” the draft MOU states. “However, in the event the District looks to dispose of the Property or no longer utilizes the Property as contemplated herein, the Property shall revert back to the City upon written demand.”
While the facility would remain open to the public, NCSD use of the property would be “deemed to have the utmost priority, and the District shall retain the right to dictate the scheduling of its needs at any time,” the proposed agreement states.
The district could not charge the general public for use of the facility, with the exception that NCSD could charge people a fee if they want to make reservations to use the facility.
“To the extent possible, NCSD shall post dates and/or times the Property shall not [be] available for public use,” the draft agreement states.
The district would be able to develop rules and regulations for public use of the tennis facilities.
When the city council discussed the possible agreement on Tuesday, August 17, Casper City Manager Carter Napier said he didn’t see any downsides to the proposal from the city’s perspective since the city would not be asked to contribute any funding for the project and the new facility would continue to be available to the public.
He added that there may be a possibility that the courts could include lines for pickleball, noting that the Recreation Center and Casper Senior Center have a desire for a space to play that sport.
The draft agreement between NCSD and the City of Casper notes that the district is aware there are some special-use programs and events for which the city may request use of the facility.
“Those requests will be handled on an individual basis through the District’s Athletics and Activities Office,” the draft MOU states. “Fees, if applicable,
will be in accordance with District Facility Use Regulation 1370. The City shall submit requests to use District facilities at least thirty (30) days prior to the date needed.”
Catellier told the city council on August 17 that the district is looking at Highland Park for the new facility due to its central location between Natrona County and Kelly Walsh High Schools. The Casper Community Tennis Association is organizing a Jalan Crossland concert that will take place at the Casper Country Club on Thursday with the goal of raising money to improve tennis facilities in Casper.
Catellier said the new courts could potentially attract some tournaments to Casper. Napier said that 10 courts could make Casper more attractive for regional tournaments. To compete to host state tournaments, he said that about 24 courts would be needed. Napier said that the council may want to also consider putting funding toward repair of other courts across the city to make Casper more attractive as a statewide tournament destination and for the economic benefits that that would come along with.
Napier said that Washington Park’s tennis courts are most in need of repair.
Casper City Council member Steve Cathey asked Catellier whether the district had considered whether any drainage problems could occur on the lower four courts.
“That was one of the first things we looked at,” Catellier said, adding that while there are some concerns, the district thinks addressing drainage issues will be possible.
Catellier noted that the city already has some storm drainage facilities in the area and that the project would include some engineering efforts to address this concern.
Casper City Council member Bruce Knell asked whether there is a timeline for the project, to which Catellier stated that the district is tentatively looking at fall 2022, though that depends on whether agreements happen in a timely fashion.
“That is our goal as of right now,” he said.