CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – A proposal that would pave the way to build an 18-yard court tennis complex at Carmel Elementary School it was approved by the Clarksville-Montgomery County School Board Tuesday night.
The board approved the conditional transfer of the property to Montgomery County for further planning and design of a community tennis complex. The vote was met with divisive opinions and the final result was 4-3.
11 acre purpose
The original purpose of the additional 11 acres at Carmel Elementary School was the development of a county park to improve the quality of life in the area. “When the Carmel Elementary School property was purchased in 2008, CMCSS and Montgomery County had plans through the Joint Land Acquisition Ad Hoc Committee to reserve the 11.37 acres as a ‘Future Community Use Area,’” he said. Anthony Johnson, CMCSS spokesman. .
Johnson said this was officially designated by the School Board and CMCSS in 2011, and an initial sketch was developed that included tennis courts, as well as several other potential uses.
Currently, Montgomery County is home to 11 tennis courts, with a total of 55 courts. All CMCSS high schools have tennis courts for student and community use, however these courts are not tournament quality and do not provide professional tutoring. As a result, many have to travel to Nashville for competitions and expert tutoring.
Forty-six of these courts are within the Clarksville city limits and nine are in Montgomery County.
The proposal to transfer the land to the county was rejected at a School Board meeting on October 18. It was brought up again because board members wanted additional information.
“Last time, when this was voted down, I received more feedback than I have received in my short four-month tenure about community tennis courts,” said Aron Maberry, representative for District 7. “It became clear to me that the The community is very supportive (of the tennis courts).”
One of the issues raised was the accessibility of these tournament-quality courts for students and families located within the city. Although most of the city’s schools are accessible via the Clarksville Transit System with nearby bus stops, it still leaves some schools outside of the city without bus access, including Carmel.
According to documents provided for the Tennis Complex proposal, the Land Acquisition Committee is currently seeking land for three elementary schools and a three-school complex that is located within the city limits. If the proposal in Carmel is not approved, these school locations could be competing with future tennis court locations.
School expansion issue
As Clarksville continues its rapid growth, concerns have been raised about school capacity. There was obvious tension in the room as discussions broke out about expanding classrooms to accommodate an increase in student population.
As cited in the proposal documents, any future additions to Carmel would be designed and attached to the main building on the west side. CMCSS officials have said there are no plans to expand to the other side of the school and it probably won’t be possible.
Maberry said it seemed wrong, then, for CMCSS to take the land for no good reason.
Carol Berry, representative of District 1, responded that the land would be used.
“We are not going to have the land just to have the land. We are going to use that land, if necessary, to expand the school in Carmel, in case the population continues to increase,” he said. “When those classes get overloaded, and they will, it’s going to be a problem.”
One main problem: CMCSS’s water treatment plant in Carmel was designed to accommodate only the current building and planned expansion, according to director of operations Norm Brumblay. So any further expansion would require a lot more infrastructure.
“Doing an expansion on that site that we had reserved for a park would be extremely difficult, extremely expensive, and would cause logistical difficulties for that building in the future,” Brumblay told the board.
The Land Acquisition Committee continues to seek future elementary school sites that will serve this region and alleviate the stress of overcrowding and school capacity. They have already ruled out that part of the Carmel campus as not feasible, Brumblay said.
Who will build the courts?
The new tennis complex would be built at no cost to the community or CMCSS. The United States Tennis Association would be responsible for funding this new community, tournament-quality tennis court location.
“A repossession clause will be included to return the property to CMCSS after five years if construction has not begun on the Tennis Complex on the Carmel Elementary School property,” according to the CMCSS Tennis Complex proposal.
After discussing the new information, the board voted to approve the transfer.
Those who voted in favor this time were Margaret Pace, Kent Griffy, Charlie Patterson and Aron Maberry. Those who did vote were Carol Berry, Herbert Nelson and Jimmie Garland.
Between the Oct. 18 vote and the one on Tuesday, Pace and Patterson switched from no to yes. Nelson changed from yes to no.
Chris Smith contributed to this report.
Correction: Aron Maberry has been on the School Board for four months. The article has been updated.