The tennis courts at Sunset Park on Wednesday.

Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

The tennis courts at Sunset Park on Wednesday.

Improvements coming soon for Sunset Park tennis courts

By Jessie H. Nunery

Sports Editor

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Improving one of the city’s more popular athletics venues will come at a cost greater than expected.

Rocky Mount Parks & Recreation Director Kelvin Yarrell said that when the department budgeted improvements for the tennis courts at Sunset Park last fall, it expected to spend roughly $250,000.

After putting out construction bids and meeting with a contractor to define exactly what needed to be spent, that quarter of a million dollars figure quickly changed.

The city is now negotiating between a pair of bids for the project, which Yarrell said he expects will break ground in July.

“The bids came in higher than expected,” Yarrell said. “We budgeted $250,000, but we realized that wouldn’t be enough.”

The Sunset Park tennis courts, long an attraction for local recreational tennis players and the home of Rocky Mount High’s tennis program until 2012, have not seen any improvements or upkeep in nearly nine years, and it is evident when looking at many of the 11 courts.

Weather-related cracks dominate many of the courts, and the surface colors are uneven in multiple spots.

Yarrell said that the courts need resurfacing every five years.

“It is up to us to resurface to keep the courts in good playing condition for a long time or we will be facing the same problem in another seven or eight years,” Yarrell said.

When the project is complete, the reclamation will include new courts, fencing and the removal of a number of tree stumps that surround the courts.

There also are plans to accommodate children 10 and under who want to learn the game at an early age.

Residents who show up to the courts on spring nights this year will play on courts that will look much different in 2015.

“We have a lot of people excited about the project,” Yarrell said.

Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or jhnunery@


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