Rumsey Park is about to be the site of an outdoor basketball court and a sand volleyball facility that are among the finest in the state.
The completion of the three lighted courts just south of Taylor Pool near the old sand volleyball court location is long overdue.
"There's been a demand for them. We've needed them for a long time," Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind said. "We were able set money aside from our park development fund."
He estimates the total cost of the improvement project at $80,000.
The basketball court, which is nearly complete, has been constructed of asphalt covered with an oil base that acts as a leveler to take out any depressions. The court also has been painted with a sand-based latex which has yielded a non-slip surface.
The basketball standards, at the north and south ends of the court, have a six-foot overhang so a player driving in for a lay-up is not in danger of running into the pole.
Gorilla brand rims have been installed on the back boards. Their high-quality and strength will help them withstand just about any abuse, including players hanging from rims or nets. Schwind, however, plans to change those rims in the future to a breakaway style that will collapse under pressure then spring back to normal position.
Schwind is changing the type of rims partly because the Gorilla type have little forgiveness for the shooter.
"If you hit any part of the rim, it probably won't go in," he said.
The two volleyball courts, which are still under construction, will represent a huge improvement over the old courts.
The biggest change players will notice is the quality of the sand. The sand in the old courts was course, dirty and tough to play on.
The new courts just east of the basketball court will be outfitted with what Schwind calls "premier bunker sand" --hite, clean and fine.
The town has enlisted the help of landscape specialists at Chaparral Pines Golf Course to find the exact type of sand needed for the courts.
To protect the sand from any type of encroachment, a 15-foot perimeter will be constructed around the two courts.
The FieldTurf being used is the same surface used on the Rumsey Library and North fields.
The turf has been donated to the town by the manufacturer.
"It's used turf," Schwind said. "It came off a football field from somewhere."
He estimates the value of the donated FieldTurf at about $5,000.
For sports enthusiasts who want to use the courts at night, all three are fully lighted and will be equipped with push button starters.
"If someone wants to use the courts at night, they just push a button and the lights come on," Schwind said.
The lighting also is on a timer that will automatically turn off at 10:30 p.m. when the facility closes.
While the main purpose of the state-of-the-art courts is for local use, Schwind anticipates they might draw Valley promoters to host tournaments.
Years ago, a Tempe promoter who hosted outdoor volleyball tournaments at Rumsey, ceased holding the events partly because of the poor quality of the courts.
"I absolutely think they will draw something to Rumsey," Schwind said.
But before promoters have the opportunity to host tournaments, the P&R department will hold an inaugural event of its own.
Schwind and recreation officials are considering hosting a basketball tournament in mid-July.
"Sometime right before school starts," Schwind said.
The format of the tournament hasn't been finalized, but three-on-three basketball games in age groups is being discussed.
Schwind expects to make a decision about the tournament by the end of the month.