Heavy rains thus far this month have washed out tennis play at Northam Park for at least a week.

According to the National Weather Service, rain totals reached as much as 2 inches Sept. 1 in areas east of Interstate 71. By Sept. 7, visitors to Northam Park still were greeted with a sign stating the park's tennis courts would be closed "until repairs can be made to the courts."

The weather service said the Upper Arlington area received up to an inch of rain Sept. 1 and up to 2.69 inches Sept. 7-9.

City officials estimate the storms did about $15,000 in damage to 11 of the 12 clay courts at Northam, where the excessive water issues were compounded by a recent project to build a new multipurpose artificial-turf athletics field directly north of the courts.

"The high amount of rain in a short time frame resulted in a steady water flow through the facility," said Debbie McLaughlin, director of the Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department. "The rain carried dirt from the newly established berm along the new school multiuse field. The mud mixed in with the clay court surface."

McLaughlin said the mud created most of the lasting problems at the courts, with areas of clay being washed away, leaving gaps that still need to be filled.

The city is working with Plain City-based Total Tennis Inc. to get the courts back in playing shape, and officials had hoped at least some of the courts could be available again sometime during the week of Sept. 10.

However, she said Sept. 10, the courts are still very wet from the weekend storms.

"There is no additional mud from the rain, but existing mud will need to dry out again," she said. "Once courts are dry, we can begin our restoration. We still do not have an estimated reopen date at this time."

Once work can start, she said Total Tennis Inc. representatives estimate they can restore one court per day.

"We hope to open with partial courts as we reassess the facility," McLaughlin said.

The problem comes at a bad time for local tennis players, because the city started a $40,000 project Sept. 4 to repair surface cracking to the four tennis courts at Fancyburg Park.

That project is the first makeover to those courts in 15 years.

"It is a result of aging asphalt," Steve Cothrel, Upper Arlington parks and forestry superintendent, said of the Fancyburg project. "The asphalt surface was installed in 2003, and winters, in particular, have taken a toll.

"Another possible factor is subsurface drainage at Fancyburg," he said. "The whole ridge along the Scioto River on the west edge of the city has shallow soils over bedrock. In some places in Fancyburg, we have only a foot or two of soil."

In the meantime, the city's one hard-surface tennis court at Sunny 95 Park and four Thompson Park courts remain open. The Fancyburg project is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Players often purchase day passes or memberships to access the Northam courts. McLaughlin said the city would see how long the courts are unavailable before deciding if refunds will be granted.

"We need to assess the length of the facility closure before determining any reimbursement," she said.

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