Oakland installing new tennis courts

Oakland+Junior+High+School+makes+renovations+to+their+tennis+courts+for+%24404+thousand.%E2%80%9DThe+tennis+court+reconstruction+is+funded+by+lease+dollars%2C+which+is+only+allowed+to+use+on+reconstruction+of+facilities+not+the+general+fund.+We+can%E2%80%99t+use+that+money+on+the+new+courts%2C+which+is+why+we+looked+for+alternative+funding+from+the+city%2C%E2%80%9D+Director+of+Operations+Dennis+Bloom+explained.

Photo by Megan Aller

Oakland Junior High School makes renovations to their tennis courts for $404 thousand.”The tennis court reconstruction is funded by lease dollars, which is only allowed to use on reconstruction of facilities not the general fund. We can’t use that money on the new courts, which is why we looked for alternative funding from the city,” Director of Operations Dennis Bloom explained.

This summer, Stillwater School District is planning major renovations for Oakland Jr. High’s tennis courts. The district is planning a $340 thousand project to repair the three existing courts, and build an additional three new ones behind those already built for $64 thousand. The district is also working with parks officials in the city of Lake Elmo in order to create a joint public park space around the planned courts.

The district is currently accepting bids on the constructing plans for the project, and will hopefully begin construction this summer, finishing the project by Aug. 15 of this year. The city of Lake Elmo will be paying $80 thousand in order to cover the cost of buying up new land for the three planned courts, and in return will receive five acres of land to use for a public park space. The two groups have worked together in the past, mainly on projects for Lake Elmo Elementary.

The agreement is called a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA), and is a relatively new process for Stillwater schools and the surrounding towns.

“We are working on a JPA where we give [Lake Elmo] a part of land that we aren’t using as a park space, and they pay for part of the three new tennis courts,” Director of Operations Dennis Bloom explained.

While the plan has been discussed for some time, the current bid still needs to be voted on by members of both the city and school district leadership.

“The [Lake Elmo] parks commission has already passed it unanimously, the city council will vote on Wednesday, and the School board on Thursday,” Bloom explained. The plan is expected to pass through both of the groups without trouble.

“The tennis court reconstruction is funded by lease dollars, which is only allowed to use on reconstruction of facilities not the general fund. ”

— Dennis Bloom

Although Stillwater District has worked with surrounding communities such as Lake Elmo before, it has never been in a JPA with the city.

“There have been some partnerships between the district and the city, but not any JPA’s,” Bloom said.  “Schools and cities often do this when they are close together,” Bloom added.

Although this major expense comes at a time when the school district is struggling financially, the cost comes from part of the budget specifically for repair projects, and the cost of the new courts is covered by Lake Elmo taxpayers.

“The tennis court reconstruction is funded by lease dollars, which is only allowed to use on reconstruction of facilities not the general fund. We can’t use that money on the new courts, which is why we looked for alternative funding from the city,” Bloom explained.

This kind of cooperation between the district and surrounding communities will hopefully lead to more projects that improve both district facilities and public spaces for local residents.