Photo by Shawn Arrajj
After raising approximately $398,000 in private donations to go toward new recreation facilities at Unity Park, the Magnolia Community Foundation, in partnership with Magnolia ISD, is looking to move forward with the project. However, plans for building an outdoor pool have been changed.
“We sat down and started looking at the needs of the school district and the costs to maintain an all-weather outdoor pool to accommodate both the public and the swim teams,” said Deborah Rose-Miller, president of the Magnolia Community Foundation. “It made more sense to do the outdoor pool attached to [Magnolia High School's] natatorium than it did to leave it at Unity Park.”
As the school district looks into ways to expand its natatorium into an outdoor pool, it also hopes to open the Gullo Family Tennis Courts—named after the family that donated $250,000 to the cause—in the summer of 2013, Miller said. The courts will be owned and maintained by MISD, but open to the public. Estimates for the cost to build the courts are around $400,000 and they will be entirely funded by private donations raised by the Magnolia Community Foundation.
“We have been busy collecting the pledges and the school district will probably be looking to go out to bid on the project around February,” she said.
Both Magnolia high schools and a few of the junior high schools have tennis courts, but they are only open during school hours and are only accessible to students, said Randy Ortwein, a Magnolia resident who serves on the advisory board of the Houston Tennis Association.
“There are really no public access tennis courts in western Magnolia,” he said. “Some neighborhoods have courts specifically for those residents, but the nearest public courts are in The Woodlands, and those are really designed for Woodlands residents.”
Ortwein said the Gullo Family courts—four full-size tennis courts and four QuickStart courts—could draw people to the area from out of town.
“Any time you have multiple public courts, that will be a big attraction to the area,” he said. “If you put on sanctioned tennis tournaments where people are coming in from outside the community, one of the benefits is the economic impact—people buying gas, eating at restaurants.”
The QuickStart courts are particularly notable, Ortwein said. These courts, designed for players aged 10 and under, are much less common and can be hard to come across.
“It's not just a learning style, but a playing and competing style,” he said. “Magnolia will be unique in that we will be able to teach and host tournaments for kids at younger ages.”
While nothing has been set at this point, Ortwein said he hopes to celebrate the grand opening of the Gullo Family courts with series of events, including instruction days for new players and play days for kids. The time frame for completing the project anticipates construction to start in March or April and to last around 90 days.
Recreation facilities at a glance
New plans for an outdoor public pool involve expanding the natatorium at Magnolia High School. The time frame is still being determined.
Four full-size tennis courts and four QuickStart courts for ages 10 and under will be constructed at Unity Park.
Estimates for the courts have come in around $400,000.
Officials hope construction will start in March or April
The courts will take around 90 days to complete, with the facility opening sometime before the 2013-14 school year.
Initial plans for a 15,000-square-foot recreation center building were tabled in 2012.