ELLSWORTH — A plan to build a pair of basketball courts on Forrest Avenue has now gone out to bid following a decision by the city’s Recreation Commission last week.
City Manager Michelle Beal said the commission supported a plan previously presented to the City Council calling for two courts on the so-called Holt Lot (former site of the school superintendent’s office.)
Those lots will replace the two existing courts located on Oak Street, which will eventually be removed to make way for First Atlantic’s nursing home and assisted living facility there.
The project went out to bid on Friday, according to Beal, and bids are due by Monday, July 8. Under that timetable, the City Council is expected to be able to consider the bids at its monthly meeting in July.
The project will cost no more than $130,000, a cap put in place by the City Council in May. The figure was chosen because the city has an account with $132,000 that can be used only at a few certain properties, one of which is the Holt Lot.
Beal said the Recreation Commission made only a couple of modifications to the plans previously reviewed by the City Council. One of those changes was to go with a different style of backboard for the hoops, which should last longer.
The other change was to slightly modify the fencing plan for the courts. There will be 12-foot-high fencing at the ends of the courts nearest abutting properties on Holt Drive and Argonne Street.
That fencing will also feature so-called sound curtains, helping to reduce the sound coming from the courts when they are in use.
On the sides of the court, the fencing will step down from 12 feet to 10 feet and then to 8 feet, which is the height most of the fencing on the sides of the courts (and the ends facing Forrest Avenue) will be.
The call for the lower fence heights on the sides and Forrest Avenue ends of the courts was made by the Recreation Commission, which Beal said believed the 12-foot-high fencing all the way around the courts would be visually unappealing.
The sound curtains were added earlier in an attempt to help ease the concerns of abutters who worried the courts will have a detrimental effect on their neighborhood.
Another change made to the original plan was to drop lighting, effectively limiting use of the courts to daylight hours.
The Holt Lot site has been cleared in recent months, even before city officials weighed in with their approval of the plan for the new courts. Beal explained that is because even if the courts were not approved, the city would find some use for the now-vacant lot.