LHS COACH EYES DOME FOR DISTRICT TENNIS MEET
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
A drive has begun to get Eastern Oregon University to postpone the dismantling of its tennis dome.
The 13-year-old dome is scheduled to be taken down next week because of its poor condition.
La Grande High School assistant tennis coach Larry Morrison believes the dome is valuable. He wants Eastern to leave it in place until at least June.
This would allow the dome to be used during the District 4 high school tennis tournament May 10-11. LHS will host the tourney, which will be conducted in La Grande and Baker City.
However, Eastern cannot postpone dismantling the tennis dome because of a contract it has with Mike Becker General Contractor of Island City, said Tim Seydel, vice president of university advancement.
The contract calls for the dismantling work to begin Monday during Easterns spring break.
It would not be fair to them (the contractor) to break the contract, Seydel said .
Morrison, however, believes that Eastern must find a way to keep from dismantling the dome until at least June. He is encouraging people to write, call or e-mail Eastern President Phil Creighton and urge him to keep the dome up this spring.
Morrison said the district tournament would be much easier to conduct with the dome in place. He added that in the event of rain it would provide a backup.
Matt Graves, Easterns director of facilities and planning, said the condition of the domes tarp is so poor that it leaks profusely during storms. Graves said the domes two courts are unplayable during such times. He noted that the court is particularly slippery when wet because of its painted asphalt surface.
Morrison, however, believes that the court is playable when wet. He noted that LHS played two matches during rainstorms last spring in the dome. He said that diligently wiping up the wet spots caused by leaks can keep the surface playable.
The tennis dome on Seventh Street is adjacent to EOUs two outdoor courts.
Once the dome is dismantled, a fence will be installed on the north side of the outdoor courts. This is needed because the dome now serves as the north backstop for the outdoor courts.
Some people are worried that the covered court will be damaged when the dome is taken down and rendered unplayable. Graves suggested that damage is unlikely because a crane will be used for the dismantling.
Graves believes the dome should be taken down because it represents a serious liability to EOU. He noted that youths frequently break into the dome and climb its beams. Youths also skateboard and roller blade in the facility.
All you need is a pen knife to break in. We cant keep people out, Graves said. I can show you 50 places where people have cut the tarp to break in.
Graves noted that about two years ago an EOU student got in one weekend while the dome was closed and began climbing its beams. He fell from a beam and was injured. The individual may never walk again.
Once dismantled, the domes material will become the property of the Mike Becker firm.
Treasure Valley Community College officials earlier had expressed interest in the dome. The Ontario college opted against taking the dome because of a liability issue.
will not be moved
LHS athletic director Verl Miller said the school will be able to host the District 4 tournament regardless of whether the dome is in place.
Miller said, however, that it will be much easier to conduct the event if the dome is up. The tournament is for class 3A, 2A and 1A high schools in Northeast Oregon.
Miller said he will respect whatever decision EOU officials make, adding that Eastern has been helpful in accommodating the LHS tennis team.
Morrison hopes the tennis dome can remain in place long enough to allow a community committee to be formed to make recommendations regarding what should be done with the facility.
I dont think that all the options have been explored, said Morrison, an LHS science teacher. We need community input.