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Paul Rolly: Salt Lake City should let wary tennis players know it cares

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Paul Rolly

By PAUL ROLLY

Tribune Columnist

First published Jun 25 2013 07:07PM
Updated Dec 7, 2013 11:34PM

In the wake of Salt Lake City’s about-face on its controversial decision to oust Mike Martines, longtime manager of the popular Dee Glen Smith Tennis Park, the city is rethinking its bid process. But the redo is not because of the outrage from the tennis community over Martines’ ouster, a letter from city managers implies.

But the sentiments shown by the tennis community toward the popular Martines, affectionately known as Coach Mike, should be exactly the reason for the new bid process. It might help Mayor Ralph Becker’s image and the morale of the residents of his city if it appeared the officials were actually listening to those affected by their decisions. It sure didn’t seem that way to residents and businesses in Sugar House when the city approved the $20 million four-block trolley extension on 1100 East.

Tennis patrons already are a bit jittery over the city’s commitment to their sport because of what has happened to tennis facilities since Becker became mayor in 2008:

• Courts at Reservoir Park adjacent to 100 South and 1300 East sat damaged for decades. Eventually the concrete reservoir where they were located failed. The city ripped out the courts, filled in the reservoir and turned it into a grassy open space, rarely used.

• Courts on the northwest corner of Fairmont Park at about 900 East and 2300 South sat damaged and unplayable for years. City Councilman Soren Simonsen and others wanted to fix them, but the effort never got budgeted. Instead, the city gave space to a nonprofit group for a community garden. Now on the new streetcar’s route, the garden is forced to move. The result: no garden and no courts.

• Lindsey Gardens courts in the Avenues have been run-down and unplayable for years. The city hasn’t fixed them. They now are behind a padlocked fence.

• The 11th Avenue courts haven’t been upgraded in years. The result is dangerous cracks and weeds, but they’re still playable.

Blaze still have a home • Utah Blaze management has reportedly come up with the dough to satisfy its $120,000 debt to EnergySolutions Arena. That means the Arena Football League team will be able to host the San Jose Sabercats on Saturday. I reported last week that the Blaze had been locked out because they had not paid rent for the games they had played so far.

Blaze spokesman Mike Dijulio told me last week that the financially strapped team lined up a new investor who should alleviate the financial problems. The team was awaiting approval of the league to make that move.

Linda Luchetti, spokeswoman for the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, which owns EnergySolutions Arena, told me that the Blaze and the arena have come to a satisfactory agreement, and the Blaze will be allowed to play Saturday.

Educational experience • The so-called cultural divide between those of Utah’s predominant faith and "the others" manifests itself at times on the Utah Liquor Commission, comprising a majority of teetotalers and some social drinkers who approach alcohol policy from different perspectives.

For those of us who long for better understanding and camaraderie between the two groups, the parting words at the meeting Tuesday from retiring Commissioner Richard Sperry were uplifting.

Sperry, seen at the beginning of his four-year term as a hard-liner on liquor policy, told commissioners he was grateful for working with people "who see things differently than I did."

In that light, Sperry, a Mormon and non-drinker, jokingly asked if his wrapped going away gift was a flask. It was a clock.

If serving on the liquor commission can foster understanding and tolerance like it apparently has with Sperry, there are a few Utah legislators I can think of who ought to give it a try.

prolly@sltrib.com

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