Tennis lights becoming costly issue

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A recurring and easily avoidable problem is costing the Selma Recreation Department a lot of money.

The department’s public tennis courts are never closed and people take advantage of that at all times during the day and night. The problem is many of the people who play on the courts during evening hours also forget to switch the lights back off, which is causing the electric bill for the recreation office to skyrocket.

“All they have to do is drive up to the switch box, pull the switch down and get back in their vehicle,” said Elton Reece, director of the Selma Parks and Recreation Department.

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Reece said he drove by Saturday morning and the lights were on for every single court. He estimates that three times a week the lights at the tennis courts stay on all night.

”I’m just asking the public that plays tennis that if they are going to use the tennis courts at night to please turn the lights out when they leave,” Reece said.

“That’s all I ask them to do and it’s free.”

This fiscal year Reece said he’s spent $6,000 on light bulbs and balances for the six tennis courts, which amounts to half of his budget.

Reece said through normal wear and tear the recreation department usually has to replace the tennis lights once a year, but he’s already replaced them twice since November.

“Right now we are replacing them at least twice a year,” Reece said.

In the fall, Reece said he made the courts daylights hours only to solve the problem, but received complaints and was asked to reconsider.

At one point, he had timers on the lights so they would shut off at 10 p.m. ‘but someone broke the timers trying to override them so the lights would come back on. He’s getting signs made for each of the four gates that will ask players to turn the lights off when they finish using them.

Reece is concerned about having enough money in his electricity budget to perform maintenance on the 23 fields the recreation department oversees. Reece said if the problem persists, he’ll have to go back to Mayor George Evans and ask about making the courts daylight hours only again.