The Wilton High School tennis courts are open to the public and free to use on a first-come, first-serve basis. But at tonight’s meeting of the Wilton Parks and Recreation Commission, officials will hear a request from one town resident asking them to consider changing that policy.
Wilton resident Annette Kaye wrote an email to Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce explaining that because so many non-residents take advantage of the free access to Wilton courts, she feels residents are at a disadvantage because they don’t have priority access.
In the email, Kaye asked town officials to discuss and consider a better system to help optimize resident use of the tennis courts over non-residents.
“We residents have to compete with out-of-town players to use our community’s courts, and it limits our use significantly. This essentially forces me to pay to play elsewhere. Ours are great courts so [they] attract a lot of players from other communities. I believe we should institute a system to prioritize and reserve court time for those who pay taxes to Wilton. Using an electronic system to access seems like it’s a reasonable and viable plan,” Kaye wrote.
Kaye explained that Wilton residents should have the opportunity to use the amenity paid for by resident tax dollars, especially since the courts at the high school were recently repaired and renovated, and the Middlebrook Middle School courts will soon be resurfaced as well.
“I voted for the renewal of the courts, and paid for that and continue to pay for its maintenance with my tax dollars, but find I do not have beneficial use,” Kaye wrote.
As a result, Kaye wrote, limited public court availability has forced her and other residents to find other options, including more expensive ones. “I pay to play tennis at 4 Seasons because I don’t want to show up at our town courts without a reservation and find they are full,” she added.
Kaye compared Wilton to surrounding towns such as Westport, where the town courts are for residents only, except for paid guests.
“It seems like in many, if not in all our neighboring communities, prioritize their residents for tennis. Wilton may be the only one where it is open access — no reservations and anyone can just queue up and wait,” she added.
As a potential solution, Kaye proposed the idea of an electronic system where Wilton residents can sign up to reserve court time. This, she said, would eliminate competition for the courts, and ensure space and time for residents at both the Wilton High School courts as well as the Middlebrook Middle School when the courts are re-done.
“I believe we should institute a system to prioritize and reserve court time for those who pay taxes in Wilton. Using an electronic system to access seems like it’s a reasonable and viable plan,” Kaye wrote.
During the summer, the town does require payment for the use of another town amenity — Merwin Meadows — and charges residents a lower price than non-residents for passes that grant entry to the park during the hours when lifeguards are on duty. It also means having employees onsite to monitor entrances and check passes during the season the pond is open for swimming.
Wilton’s tennis courts are open for a much longer part of the year and are unmonitored by a designated onsite employee. They are located at the corner of Danbury Rd./Rte. 7 and School Rd.
The correspondence is on the agenda for discussion at Wednesday evening‘s (July 14) meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission at 7:30 p.m. Residents can watch the meeting on Zoom and have the opportunity to participate during public comment at the end.
GOOD Morning Wilton contacted Pierce for comment but didn’t hear back by deadline.
I agree that Wilton residents, who are paying for the courts, should have priority use. Seems pretty obvious.
Contrary view. I no longer play because of age , but continue to pay taxes, which support the tennis courts. I occasionally have my son and grandson visit and they have enjoyed the courts. We have been there on nice , weekend days and never seen full use of the courts. Even if that happens once in a while, to start charging fees seems like a solution in search of a problem. R. Frisch
Wilton residents have supported town amenities through tax dollars and should have not only priority, but exclusivity of use of any town facility.
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