Indoor/outdoor tennis facility gets board OK

Seniors supported plan, which replaced ice rink proposal


Alarge tennis facility is slated to hold court on Perrineville Road near Route 33, thanks to unanimous approval by the Monroe Township Planning Board on June 26.

“From the standpoint of where it’s located, I think it’s an ideal location,” Mayor Richard Pucci said. “That’s going to be the area of our future build-out.”

The facility, which will sit about 1,000 feet from Route 33, on the east side of Perrineville Road, will be home to both indoor and outdoor courts.

According to Township Engineer Ernie Feist, the indoor portion will comprise 78,100 square feet and contain eight tennis and two basketball courts. Four outdoor tennis courts will span another 27,500 square feet.

An air-supported fabric structure will allow the outdoor courts to be used year-round, Feist said. During colder months, the structure will act as a bubble to protect players from the elements. It will be removed during warmer months.

Between 20 and 25 senior citizens from various township tennis organizations showed up at the Planning Board meeting to offer input on the application, Feist said.

“They were there to show their support and encourage the board to approve it,” Feist said. “They were very much in favor of seeing this built, so they wouldn’t have to travel to East Brunswick.”

There is currently no indoor tennis facility in Monroe, Feist said, so the residents often used one in East Brunswick during winter.

Pucci said the tennis-playing seniors also pushed for courts to be surfaced with a clay material called Har Tru, which they said reduces injuries and lessens joint stress. The builder, Monroe 33 Tennis, Basketball and Sports Center LLC, agreed to surface the four outdoor courts with Har-Tru.

According to Pucci, the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders is also looking at the surface as a superior alternative for county facilities.

“They have a keen interest in rehabbing the Thompson Park tennis courts,” Pucci said.

Township officials met a few months ago with Middlesex County Freeholder Stephen Dalina regarding the possibility. The courts, located in the Jamesburg portion of Thompson Park, would be the first in the county to be surfaced with Har-Tru, Pucci said.

Feist said the developer is projecting that the facility will be completed by fall 2009, but it is yet unclear when construction will begin.

The project took the place of past efforts to build an ice skating rink at the Perrineville Road site. Though that project gained approval from the Planning Board, the builders abandoned it before construction began.

“The new application came in utilizing the old plans with some modifications,” Feist said.

Pucci expressed pleasure with the project, saying tennis courts are a nice amenity to have for residents, but are often hard for municipalities to provide due to varying levels of support for such projects.

He pointed out that while there is a large constituency of seniors with a love for the game, it is also likely that younger residents will take advantage of the new courts once they are built.

“If the facility is available to them, I think more of them will move toward utilizing the facility,” Pucci said.