BY KATHRYN KELLY
It’s a beautiful spring evening. The nets are up and people are playing tennis on the courts at East 43rd Street and 26th Avenue South. But, if you venture east along 46th and 47th Streets you will see three sets of tennis courts that are dismal and crumbling. They look abandoned, with no nets and no tennis players. How can this be??!!
When Theodore Wirth became superintendent of the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board (MPRB), in 1904, one of his goals was to provide recreation within walking distance of every child in the City of Minneapolis.
These tennis courts are one of the biggest parts of his legacy. Yet, the current MRPB commissioners have, apparently, abandoned them.
So, why is the court on 43rd Street so well maintained? The MPRB DOES NOT maintain it. A private tennis club maintains it and teaches tennis to kids. With this, the club gets exclusive blocks of time on these courts during the summer. This is a laudable endeavor, and these reserved times would not be so egregious if it weren’t for the fact that the nearby tennis courts are in disrepair and unusable when the “good” courts are reserved.
Where is the MPRB spending our taxpayer money? The MPRB is allocating $275,000 in 2019 to the Hiawatha Golf Course Master Plan, which will destroy another of Theodore Wirth’s legacies, the Hiawatha 18-hole golf course, and turn it into a swamp. How many of these tennis courts could be refurbished and maintained with this money?
The MPRB needs to take responsibility for MAINTAINING their existing assets BEFORE chasing new, shiny “pie-in-the-sky” projects.
Note: Just like the tennis courts, Theodore Wirth built golf courses in every part of the city so that golf was accessible to all City of Minneapolis residents, especially kids.