By Frank Lewis
It won’t exactly be Wimbledon, but to New Boston Councilman Dan Fetty, it will be just as exciting. He and his daughter, Rachel Perry, have a date to play a singles match on the tennis courts at Millbrook Park in New Boston when repairs to the facility are made, and that became a reality this week when Fetty was notified he had received a NatureWorks grant for $67,165 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
It didn’t happen overnight.
“I’ve worked for the last three years on trying to find financing to repair the tennis courts,” Fetty said. “I have been online trying to find grants. If there was a foundation, if there was a grant, I applied for it.”
The tennis courts were closed in May 2012 because they were in complete disrepair with large gaping cracks in the surface, a fence rusting and falling down and weeds growing in the middle of the courts. It was in June of that same year that Fetty began his quest to find funding for the facilities.
“When (Village Administrator) Steve Hamilton told me the tennis courts were closed, I told him, I can’t accept that,” Fetty said. “I said, my son and my daughter played here. We had the high school people who played here. I will find financing to fix these courts.”
The beginning was not bright.
“In August (2012) I got my first rejection letter,” Fetty said. “I had more rejection letters than I got money.”
Fetty continued to look online. He contacted government representatives.
“(U.S.) Senator Sherrod Brown sent me information about the NatureWorks grant and it covers 75 percent of the request to do the work,” Fetty said. “It had been closed for that time period (2013), and they are now doing it every other year. So the next time I could apply for it was for the 2015 grant.”
Meanwhile, while waiting for the two years to pass, Fetty began beating the bushes for money.
“I started to our (New Boston) school board. Our school board put in some financing; the village of New Boston put in financing; I then went to several businesses throughout the community. Not just New Boston, but Portsmouth. I received funding back from several businesses. I put letters out to the alumni and I received a lot of money back from the alumni.”
Fetty had to provide an estimate as part of his application for the grant, and the estimate was for $102,000, and Fetty had, in money already received or committed, $27,000. The work will include digging out the cracks, put new asphalt down, then put a product on called Petrotac and put down a new layer of asphalt. They will then install new nets, new posts, all done in New Boston red and grey, new grey vinyl fencing all around, put new red covers on the fence posts and add a gate to make it easier to retrieve balls. He said the village will have sufficient funds to do all the work.
“From January to the middle of April, I started working on the paperwork for the grant,” Fetty said.
ODNR gives a grant to each county and this year the entire Scioto County grant of $67,165 went to the village of New Boston for repair of the tennis courts. He said nothing can be done this year, but come next year, he expects to have the work done once he is notified by the state that the work can be done. He said the most exciting thing about the project is giving New Boston students a home court to play on.
“I was tickled pink when I kept looking online as to when the grant was going to be awarded,” Fetty said. “On Tuesday I called and talked to Mary Fitch in the Office of Real Estate, and she said, ‘you should have already received that letter of notification.’ She looks up Scioto County and she read the letter (informing them of the grant) to me. I was thrilled to death, all this work that had paid off and the village of New Boston once again has been awarded some outstanding finances to do the project.”
So will Dan Fetty challenge Steve Hamilton to the first tennis match on the newly renovated tennis courts?
“No sir,” Fetty replied. “The first game of tennis is going to be with me and my daughter.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.