Warner Robins and the Houston County Board of Education are combining forces and funds to build a new tennis facility.
The multi-million-dollar project will go on empty land near Freedom Field and David Perdue Elementary and cost up to $3 million.
At the end of 2017, Warner Robins Council agreed to spend up to $1.2 million funding a new tennis center.
Recreation Director Jarred Reneau says it can't come soon enough as the city makes renovations to the rest of the department.
“The Rec Department is going to be torn down and these courts here, which are used every day, we need to replace those for the citizens so I mean I think it's very viable for the city of Warner Robins and the citizens of Warner Robins and the surrounding counties to be able to have a place to play tennis,” Reneau told us in his office.
Across town, Tanner Park's tennis courts are also in their last days. As the city focuses Tanner more for football, the courts will be demolished sometime before the end of summer. All told, the city will lose 14 courts between the Recreation Department Office and Tanner Park.
Reneau says they'll need the 15 to 20 courts planned at the new center sooner rather than later.
Supporters of the project, including tennis coach Kerry Bacon, who's been coaching 43 years, say it's sorely needed to make tennis a priority in Warner Robins.
“I think this is gonna really explode tennis though, because we've been very limited, cause we've had such a limited number of instructors, courts, programs. So, I think this is- we're going to see a real tennis movement in Warner Robins because of this,” Bacon said at Tanner Park.
Bacon says this will help the high schools host regional tournaments and make scheduling easier.
He currently coaches more than 300 junior players through city programs and says he knows how difficult it can be scheduling high school tournaments and matches at smaller facilities around public use.
The Houston County School Board is on the hook for $1.8 million of the project.
Reneau says his department could handle running the courts.
“Once these [Recreation Department] tennis courts are taken down, destroyed, or what have you, we'd actually just be replacing what we have now. So, maintaining the facility is not going to be a problem on our behalf,” Reneau said.
Reneau says the Board is finishing plans and they hope to start construction this year.
Warner Robins Mayor and Council have asked to get a final say on the plan to split the facility between public use and the schools, according to Reneau. He added that the meeting between city representatives and the School Board is going to be scheduled sometime soon.