HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — On Monday, Houston County Schools’ new state-of-the-art tennis facility sat vacant. 

It opened last month, but a viewer wanted to know if it’s open to the public. 

Bill Campbell sent 13 WMAZ an e-mail that said: “My tax dollars went to the best tennis courts in Central Georgia, and yet they sit idle and can’t be used by the tax payers.” So we set out to verify if this is true.

Bryon Robley and Porter Smith have both been playing tennis for years.

“What tennis really taught me is that dedication and hard work can get you somewhere and help you pursue things that you really love,” says Robley. 

“It’s a lifelong sport,” says Smith. 

Both Houston County men spend a few days a week on the court. Smith says sometimes, he plays at the city courts off Watson Blvd.

“These courts are old, and I think the city maintains them to the best of their ability, but they could always use resurfacing,” says Smith. 

But across town, the new Houston County Schools’ tennis facility opened last month across from Freedom Field.

“I drove by it twice and kind of stopped and was like, ‘Ah, I could play tennis here—I would love to do,'” says Robley.

The complex was paid for by an Education SPLOST—the last project in the 2012 to 2017 E-SPLOST budget—according to Houston Schools spokeswoman, Beth McLaughlin.

“They’re state-of-the-art and new and fresh. They’ve got facilities to go with it,” says Smith.

It has awnings, bathrooms, water fountains, and newly-surfaced court, but is it open to the public?

In May, Warner Robins City council voted against contributing $1.75 million towards a joint project.

“We’ve been negotiating, but it just kind of fell apart,” Mayor Randy Toms told 13 WMAZ last spring.

At that May 13th city council meeting, councilman Tim Thomas raised concerns about language in the contract that could make the city vulnerable to unpredictable maintenance costs.

“I pay my taxes. I would like to be able to enjoy the facility,” says Smith.

After the city pulled out, the School Board completed the project with those E-SPLOST dollars.

On Monday, McLaughlin said the facility is complete and is property of Houston County Schools. Right now, she says the courts aren’t open to anyone because it is not tennis season for high-schoolers.

But McLaughlin says Houston Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Scott is working on a plan to allow public access in the near future.

So, yes, we verified the new Houston county tennis courts are not currently available for public use, but the school district hopes they will be soon.

McLaughlin says right now they are still working out details like staffing and hours of operation before the facility can open to the public. 

High school tennis season starts in January.

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