Town Pursues $460K Solution for NCHS Tennis Courts

Each spring, recreation officials have to repair cracks and bumps in the asphalt. A technology, supported by the selectmen for next year's budget, would preempt the problem.


Here’s something the New Canaan Recreation Department does each spring, and something that surely will be done again some time after the snow from this winter storm melts: Repair the cracks on the high school’s hard tennis courts.

Recreation Director Steve Benko told Patch that about two years ago, in the fall of 2010, workers routed all the cracks on the six courts there, sealed them and painted them—and then followed a brutal winter of weekly snowstorms.

“Had to come out April 1 for the start of the high school season and spent another $6,000 on emergency repair,” Benko said.

After about four years of discussion on how to find a more viable, longer-term option, Benko has hit on a new technology that he says, with some upfront investment, will save the town repair costs—not to mention sparing New Canaan the risk of injury to one of its athletes and the legal costs that could follow.

A $460,000 allocation for what’s called a “post-tensioned concrete surface” received support from the Board of Selectmen as part of next year’s budget (see page 223 in the attached PDF). Typically, the rec department spends $5,000 to $7,000 each spring repairing cracks, and $25,000 every seven years to color-coat the courts. A post-tensioned concrete surface only needs that coating every five years, the rec department says.

According to Benko, the technology—used with success in Newtown, for one—solves a problem the courts now have where changing weather patterns create bumps, cracks and other problems. In post-tensioned concrete, concrete is poured around a duct to follow areas where tension otherwise would exist. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it.

As it is now, the asphalt on the courts moves on its own, creating potential hazards for players.

"What you really don't want is for some kid to break an ankle," Benko said.

The life expectancy of the solution is 20 to 30 years, he said.

The town has pegged a Sept. 13 start date for the project, which would take about two months to finish.

Michael Dinan February 12, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Hello all: I received a request Monday afternoon from a Patch reader to double-check the figures I reported in this article, and immediately contacted the Recreation Department. As soon as I get more information, I will return to this thread with an update and, if needed, update the article as well. Thank you for your comments here. Most important thing to me is making sure I've reported the story accurately. Best, -Mike
S Tadik February 14, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Today Patch published a picture and a bold headline about time spent waiting for a traffic light to change. There was some conversation about grammar and amateur psychobabble. In the meantime, we blow off almost a half million dollar expenditure which got out of the Board of Selectmen and does not seem to make any sense. Is it possible aliens have captured the town and moved it into another place in the time-space continuum? Roy Abramowitz, run for the telephone booth and put on your Superman suit. Get Spiderman and Wonder Woman if you need them. Help, the government and the press fell down and they can't get up.
Michael Dinan February 15, 2013 at 12:53 PM
@S Tadik: I heard back yesterday from Steve Benko our recreation director (Steve, thanks for your time) and he confirmed the facts that we published in our article here. Steve acknowledged that yes, it's a lot of money and perhaps the project could be funded via bonding instead of the capital budget. Some things that Steve stressed were the 20- to 30-year life of this solution. Understand that the six-court surface is a wide area. Steve said he went out there with his roller even prior to the winter storm hitting and he got 135 total feet worth of new cracks. There are products that come onto the market to address these problems, and this one has been proven in other parts of Fairfield County, notably Newtown, as something that works and doesn't require more follow-up. My sense also, and this is me talking not Steve, that the liability protection here is central to the plan. Cracks in concrete and seam tears in other types of surfaces crop up and are not necessarily brought to the attention of a town official immediately, so that creates the potential for an accident for which the town could be liable. That's my sense, as I am seeing New Canaan invest in other solutions -- such as the ID gate at Spencer's Run for dog owners (something I'll update here on Patch soon) -- that are fueled in large part by a desire to protect the town. In the case of the dog park, for example, dog owners are required as part of the registration process to sign a waiver. Hope this helps. -Mike
J Bauer February 15, 2013 at 04:09 PM
This is nuts. 460k for tennis courts. Did anyone notice the budget this year? Is there any common sense to our spending? Do our selectmen and TC members want to continue edging up our taxes until we look like Westchester? What happened to the fiscally sound minded Rob Mallozzi or the ever prudent Nick Williams? They are spending our money like drunken sailors... We have 15-20 million bucks coming on town hall, 500k for tennis courts, pretty soon they will find another silly empty field to buy for 20 million bucks, telling us what a beautiful park it will make. What a bunch of jokers we have in local government.
art brown February 21, 2013 at 11:30 PM
steve benko is a very competent person who will do what's best for nc. leave raven k. alone. she is a great kid with good intentions. dunbar, you are an entertaining guy-do people take you seriously? no one giving you any geesh in this town cuz. a.brown


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