City, UM to discuss indoor tennis court

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

If a land swap can be made, the city of Oxford and the University of Mississippi may one day be partners in an indoor tennis facility.

According to Public Works Director Bart Robinson, university officials approached the city about building an indoor tennis facility on city-owned land that the city would maintain and manage.

The university would build the facility and take on the costs associated with land preparations and construction of the facility.

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“They just don’t want to maintain and manage it since they will only use it about a dozen days a year,” Robinson told the Oxford Board of Aldermen Tuesday during its regular meeting.

One option could be the university leasing the property the facility is built on while the Oxford Park Commission manages the facility.

“We couldn’t book anything there during the times they have tournaments in case there is bad weather and they have to move the matches to the indoor facility,” Robinson said. “But other than those days and a few practices, we would be able to use them.”

The property being considered is located at Stone Park where the baseball field currently sits. Robinson said the land is encumbered by a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant from the 1970s when the city received park lights from the grant. By receiving the grant funds, the city agreed that property needed to remain for outdoor public use. However, if the city can mitigate those lands to another location they can use the land for the indoor tennis facility.

Robinson said they are going to work with the university to see if they can use the easements along the old railroad trails and extend accesses into neighborhoods, which would fit under the outdoor recreation use. The size of the land being mitigated doesn’t matter, Robinson said.

“Only the worth of the land,” he said.

The Board of Aldermen approved allowing Robinson to get an appraisal done of the Stone Park and railroad bed property and requested the university pay half of the cost for the appraisal.

Robinson said if everything moved along and the land could be swapped, construction could begin this fall. The structure is currently planned to have six courts, bathrooms and office space.