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Newmarket eyes moving tennis courts to Shining Hill to create more downtown parking

Mayor says time has come to decide on tennis court move with clock tower hotel adding to parking concerns
USED 2019 02 06 Keith Davis Tennis  DK
The Keith Davis Tennis Centre, home of the Newmarket Community Tennis Club in downtown Newmarket. Debora Kelly/NewmarketToday

Newmarket is considering turning its downtown tennis courts into parking spaces and replacing them with a new facility at the Shining Hill lands.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor sent a memo about the idea to downtown business leaders. As part of a new deal with the Shining Hill developer, the lands could be a long-awaited new home for the Newmarket Tennis Club, with 12 courts as opposed to the current six.

Meanwhile, the Keith Davis Tennis Centre could become parking, with at least 100 spaces, to help meet the demands of the new clock tower hotel on its way.

Taylor said none of this is final, and it is all subject to public consultation and council discussion. But he said he expects it to be on the council agenda before the summer.

“We’ve been contemplating for years the potential for that area to be developed with parking,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to be as transparent as possible that the moment to make some decisions has arrived.”

Council has had a new tennis facility as part of its recreation playbook for several years, with the downtown courts eyed as a parking solution before. Previously proposed locations for the move included Art Ferguson Park, but Shining Hill emerged as a new option in recent discussions.

Councillor Bob Kwapis said they want to be sure to have enough parking to accommodate the tourists the hotel could bring. 

“Downtown parking has always been a challenge. With the new 12 tennis courts being built in Shining Hill, it gives the town a lot of flexibility in what we want to do with the current tennis club,” Kwapis said at a Feb. 2 Main Street BIA meeting. 

Newmarket Tennis Club manager Sean Swail said they have been looking at a new location in Newmarket for a decade and are excited by the prospect of Shining Hill. He said it offers more room to develop compared to Art Ferguson Park.

“We’re all very happy to be able to move to somewhere with additional indoor courts,” he said. “It looks like a good location.” 

Taylor said pickleball could also be part of the new facility. Local pickleball enthusiasts have also said they would like more space than what is available. 

Main Street businesses have expressed excitement for the new hotel but have concerns over the impact on parking. Main Street BIA chair Tom Hempen said he was glad to hear about the proposed move.

“We really appreciate the town working on this and sharing this information,” he said at a BIA meeting. “A lot of people had some concerns with future parking and this really addresses it.”

The Shining Hill developers have said it could take six to 10 years to fully complete the residential community there. Town council has given tentative approval for rezoning to allow development to go ahead, although there is still a site plan approval process to come. 

The hotel aims to open in the first quarter of 2023.

Taylor said he could not say how long the tennis court change could take, but they are mindful of that timeline.

“We got to be reasonable and flexible,” Taylor said of the process to come, adding they will consult with all stakeholders. But, he added, “The boutique hotel is moving forward, and we want to try to make sure we take the steps as town council to respond to the concerns of the downtown merchants.”