Residents want tennis courts for Macon’s proposed Sub-South Park

Architect David Schroeder drew applause from the crowd gathered at Rutland High School on Thursday with the mention of one word: tennis.

Schroeder and engineers with Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineers of Kennesaw led the meeting that was intended to gather input for potential features of the proposed Sub-South Park. He mentioned other options such as a swimming facility, walking trails and playgrounds, but tennis courts got the biggest reaction from the dozens of Middle Georgia residents in attendance.

“The question when it comes to tennis is, ‘how big?’” Schroeder said.

Residents had an answer for him. Julie Steele, who lives in the midtown area of Macon, is involved with the Macon Tennis Association and had an exact number of courts in mind. She had heard mention of 24 courts at the park but was concerned that might not happen.

“I’d like to see other things at the facility, but Macon needs the 24 courts,” she said.

The association hosts tournaments mostly at John Drew Smith Tennis Center, but that facility doesn’t offer enough space for larger events. Even with courts at Tattnall Square Park, the group has to find other areas to host matches.

“Every time we have a tournament, we’re having to beg and borrow courts,” she said.

The bigger the tournament, the more people come to Macon. And the bigger the crowd that attends a tournament, the more money they spend, said Mercer University assistant tennis coach Ted McLane.

“It brings a lot of economic benefit with it,” he said. “It would allow us to host more tournaments, bigger tournaments.”

The park is split into two parcels of land. One is behind Heard Elementary School on Houston Road and has limited access from major thoroughfares.

The second parcel is farther south at the intersection of Houston Road and the new Sardis Church Road extension. While the extension is not yet finished, Schroeder doesn’t think that will impact the park’s development.

“It is my understanding that project should be complete by the time we break ground,” he said.

Two more meetings will be held -- at 6:30 p.m. on May 28 and June 4 -- before a final plan will be completed.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.