The tennis courts at Ehlert Park (above) were last resurfaced more than 30 years ago with a combination of artificial turf and sand, which has proven unattractive to players and is in a state of disrepair. (Bob Uphues/Editor)

The four ramshackle tennis courts at Ehlert Park on Brookfield’s south end will get a facelift this fall after elected officials on June 27 gave the go-ahead to have the improvements designed and put the project out to bid.

Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari told the Landmark she hoped the project could be bid in August with construction completed in the fall.

When complete, the newly resurfaced courts will be striped not only for tennis but also for pickle ball, a game that’s proven to be a hit at the new tennis courts at Candy Cane Park on the village’s far north side.

The improvement at Ehlert Park will also be the first real work to address the surface of the tennis courts in more than three decades, according to Village Trustee Kit Ketchmark, who was an avid tennis player back in the late 1980s.

Between 1985 and 1988, said Ketchmark the village decided against a full reconstruction of the court surface and went with a cheaper solution that involved laying down a layer of artificial turf and sand to simulate a clay surface. Ketchmark was not a fan.

“I remember when they were resurfaced and hated it because of the sand that would trail the ball,” Ketchmark said. “I wear contacts, making it hard to play. We would generally go to LaGrange to play.”

At the village board’s meeting on June 27, Ferrari told elected officials she had gotten formal confirmation that the state was finally releasing the $200,000 earmarked in the state’s 2019 capital budget by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

At the time, the cost to resurface the tennis courts was estimated to be about $160,000. Three years and one pandemic later, the cost estimate has risen to $270,000, Ferrari said, which will require the village to fund the remaining $70,000.

Moreover, the state has informed the village that the funds for the tennis courts won’t be disbursed until 2023. As a result, Ferrari asked trustees to consent to using $200,000 from the general operating fund for the tennis court project. When the village receives the funding from the state for the tennis court project in 2023, the money will reimburse the general fund and be used subsequently for road improvements. 

Hitchcock Design Group, which Brookfield has utilized as its consultant for park improvement projects over that past 15 years, will design the improvements and manage construction of the project, which also will include new fencing.

Bids received later this year will go to the village board, which will vote to award a construction contract to the low bidder.