Neighbors Fundraise As Tyler Park Restoration Costs Outstrip Budget
It’s unlikely that the larger of Tyler Park’s two tennis courts will be redone this year as costs for the whole project are higher than originally anticipated.
The project was originally budgeted at $1.12 million, with most of the money coming from the Olmsted Parks Conservancy and some from Metro government. That was meant to cover a variety of upgrades, including adding a restroom building and wheelchair access, as well as redoing the tennis courts.
Olmsted President and CEO Layla George said that fundraising for the restoration was done three years ago. But the bids that came in this year were higher than they had expected.
"It's disappointing to invest well over a million dollars into a park and not feel like it's enough to finish it," she said.
Olmsted itself put in $840,000. The city originally committed $275,000 to the project, but when George was faced with the shortfall, she turned to Metro Government for more funding to support the wheelchair ramp. It carved out an additional $120,000 in this year’s budget for that, bringing its total investment close to $400,000. And the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association contributed about $5,000.
"We had to cut something from the project," George said. "We decided that the four-court would be a compelling fundraising pitch to the neighborhood and the tennis community."
The plan calls for converting the four tennis court structure into two tennis courts, a half basketball court and two pickleball courts.
George said that conversion will cost $125,000 if someone can raise the money by the park's ribbon-cutting, which is planned for Sept. 25. Without the full amount, they'll have to pursue a new bid, which could cost more. But she said regardless, Olmsted isn't raising more money for the project.
Now the Tyler Park Neighborhood Association is taking up that cause.
So far, the group has raised about $18,000, mostly from its 20 board members. It sent out letters to association members earlier this month, and plans to solicit donations from all Tyler Park residents and others across the city in its next phase of fundraising. To that end, the group added a donate button to its website over the weekend.
“We are going to try and make the deadline. We know that construction is moving along pretty quickly," neighborhood association board member Shawn Reilly said. "If we can get the money before the crew leaves the park, then we can get that discount rate on the construction costs.”
With another $107,000 needed and a little more than a month to go, raising all the funds will be a challenge. Reilly said that if the group misses this deadline, it will continue raising in hopes of meeting a larger future target. And if that fails, he said they will put the money into a smaller project in the park.