The mecca for outdoor tennis in Sioux Falls could soon be Tomar Park.
Between the school district and the city’s parks system, there’s no shortage of tennis courts throughout Sioux Falls. But the largest single outdoor complexes are eight-court facilities.
In contrast, other South Dakota communities like Rapid City and Mitchell have 12-court complexes, giving those cities the edge when it comes to booking regional and national tennis tournaments.
That’s why the Sioux Falls Tennis Association (SFTA), with the blessing of the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Board, intends to add tennis amenities at Tomar Park and create a 12-court complex aimed at bolstering the city’s appeal to prospective competitions and tournaments.
“Tomar would get us there,” said Lydia Healy, SFTA executive director. “It’s right off the interstate, we could piggyback with Lincoln (High School) and McKennan Park and we could really have some good tournaments.”
According to the Tomar Park Master Plan, recently amended to include the tennis association’s vision, the project would include not just the 12 new tennis courts, but also the relocation of the existing basketball and volleyball facilities that are there now, and add an additional 63 parking spaces.
In all, Healy said construction on the project is estimated at about $2 million, which would be privately raised by SFTA. Once the work is finished, the facilities would be formally gifted to the city and maintained by the parks department.
“They have to have fundraising complete before they start construction on the project, so they don’t get halfway and then have an unfinished project,” Sioux Falls parks development specialist Tory Miedema told the parks board during its May meeting, where a memorandum of understanding with SFTA earned unanimous approval.
Healy said fundraising hasn’t yet begun, but the group hopes to partner with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce for a Community Appeals Campaign, which has been used to fund other community projects like the Sioux Falls Stockyards Ag Experience, the new concrete skate park in the works right now, and Levitt at the Falls.
Selling naming rights for each tennis court will also be an avenue for coming up with the necessary money to see the project through, Healy said.
Miedema said SFTA has until 2025 to get started on the project. But beyond the tennis courts, the city itself has even more ambitious plans for Tomar Park a decade or two down the road.
The city continues to purchase flood-prone homes along Rose and Lotta Streets to the south of the park as a part of a voluntary buy-out program that started last year.
In all, 55 properties there have been targeted for eventual removal from the neighborhood to create more green space that will be incorporated into Tomar Park.
As of now, eight homes have been purchased and either bulldozed or relocated, and the Sioux Falls Housing Division is optimistic another 12 could come out this year.
Once all those houses and buildings are gone – estimated to take between 10 and 15 years – the city plans to add and realign park entrances, add playground equipment closer to the homes that will remain in the neighborhood and add another 290 parking spaces.
And when the Department of Transportation and Sioux Falls Public Works Department get around to reconstructing the interchange at Minnesota Avenue and Interstate 229, the bike trail will be relocated from the north side of the Big Sioux River where it is now through Tomar Park on the south side of the river.
A storm drainage ditch will also be replaced with a piping system to hold rain runoff, according to the Tomar Park Master Plan.
“Realigning the Phillips Avenue entrance and putting the storm water ditch in a pipe will make the park more usable with no longer having a big ditch running through the park,” said Chad Kucker, an associate with Confluence, the engineering firm assisting with designs of Tomar Park.
Read or Share this story: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2020/07/02/group-wants-tomar-park-hub-outdoor-tennis-play-sioux-falls/5366125002/