AUBURN, Mass. – Politicians aren’t the only ones having debates this time of year. Auburn School Committee members debated last night whether they should waive the fee for residents to turn on the lights at the high school tennis courts.
Edward Smreczak, a 12-year Auburn resident with two sons on the tennis team, brought the issue forward, saying he wants the school district to negate the fee that residents have to pay to use the tennis courts in the evening.
Wayne Page, vice chair of the committee, said he would definitely support letting residents play on the tennis courts for free at night.
“I am against a fee. I think it’s wrong that residents have to pay to play there at night,” Page said. “You’ve paid for this high school and now we’re making you pay to use this court? I don’t think that’s just.”
Smreczak proposed three options for waiving the fee, which he said Oxford and Holden have done for their tennis courts. His solutions are keeping the lights on until 9 p.m., installing a light switch at the courts or issuing a key that the tennis player would sign out.
While School Committee Chair Jeffrey Lourie said he wants to give athletes a chance to practice for free, he does have some concerns about setting such a precedent.
“By negating this one fee, setting this precedent at this location, will this have a trickle-down effect to all the other areas where we have lights?” Lourie said. “Would this cause other people saying that they don’t want to pay at Pappas (Recreation Complex) or at basketball courts?”
School Committee member George Scobie also said he was afraid the School Committee room would be filled with parents from all different sports if they waive the fee for the tennis courts.
“There will be basketball, football, soccer parents coming in here, saying they don’t want to pay anymore,” Scobie said.
Lourie was also concerned about the financial costs of setting up a “timer, switch, key or button or whatever type of situation we want to put in there.”
“What is the funding source on how we make this payment?” Lourie said. “What are we taking from to pay it, if that’s the case?
Lourie said that before he can vote on waiving the fee, he needs information on the costs of such a decision. The School Committee’s next meeting is on Nov. 5, when there could be a vote on the issue.