Should Salisbury High School’s tennis teams be allowed to continue using tennis courts in a Salisbury Township park indefinitely, rather than the Salisbury School District repairing its own courts?

And, if the tennis teams do keep using the township’s courts, should the school district start paying the township for maintenance costs?

Those questions were put before Salisbury commissioners Thursday night by township manager Randy Soriano and Genny Baillie, the township’s recreation director.

An underlying issue is whether allowing the high school’s tennis teams to continue practicing and competing on the township’s courts deprives other township residents of the ability to play tennis on them.

The teams need to use all four courts at Lindberg Park for at least a couple of hours a day, six days a week, during spring and fall.

Soriano said he initially assumed Salisbury School District only needed to use the Lindberg Park tennis courts temporarily, until its own courts were repaired.

“We really wanted to help the school district, but we thought it was only going to be for a short period,” he said, adding it’s continued for a couple of years.

Commissioners discussed the fact that tennis courts at Salisbury Middle School had been refinished only about five years ago.

“When they redid theirs four or five years ago, they were nice,” said Commissioner James Seagreaves.

But Baillie said the school district asked to use the township’s courts “because theirs were not playable anymore.”

Soriano and Baillie said school district officials told them it would cost more than $1 million to reconstruct their own tennis courts and they have no plans to do that.

Soriano said he wanted to discuss the matter with the commissioners before agreeing to let the district’s tennis teams use Lindberg Park’s courts again, beginning in August.

The manager suggested to commissioners that the township be reimbursed by the district if it wants to continue using the park’s courts on a long-term basis.

“But there has to be a time limit,” said Commissioner Joanne Ackerman.
“It can’t be until the end of time.”

Soriano noted if the school district would have to pay $1 million to renovate its tennis courts, that could impact school taxes for all township residents.

He acknowledged that the high school’s tennis players are the sons and daughters of township taxpayers, but still thinks the township should recover some maintenance costs from the school district.

He said district superintendent Michael Roth and high school athletic director Monica Deeb were receptive to that idea when he and Baillie met with them last year.

Said Baillie: “She said: ‘If you need a new tennis net, let us know, we’ll buy it’.”

Baillie advocated that the school district not be permitted to keep using the township tennis courts indefinitely, rather than paying the township some kind of fee to just keep using them.

“It would be one thing if they were coming to us with an end in sight,” said Baillie. “I’d like to see them get more realistic about getting their own courts fixed.”

James Brown, president of the township commissioners, agreed, saying the school district should get a realistic price on what it will cost to fix its own tennis courts. Brown said the district spent $1 million on its football field a couple of years ago.

No one from the school district was at the commissioners’ workshop meeting where the issue was discussed Thursday night --- and the five commissioners made no formal decision.

Baillie said the school district wants to use the Lindberg Park courts from 3-5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays from Aug. 11 until Oct. 6, for the girls’ tennis team.

She said it wants to use them again during three months in spring, for the boys’ team.

During those times, no one else can get on the courts, she said.