As Quinnipiac University’s tennis courts relocation process is underway, tennis players are using the courts at North Haven High School’s sports complex.
Senior graphic and interactive design major Sydney Burke, who used to play tennis at Quinnipiac every week in past years, tried out for club tennis at its temporary courts on Sept. 12.
“The North Haven tennis courts are pretty nice,” Burke said. “They don’t have any cracks or anything. I enjoyed playing there.”
However, she still prefers playing at Quinnipiac’s courts because they were specifically made for the team. She said it unites the players and the university.
Students said one inconvenience from not having a tennis court on campus is transportation as the university doesn’t provide lift to the neighboring town.
“I do have to drive 10 minutes from my off-campus house to North Haven High School,” Burke said.
Amanda Ertman, a senior sociology and elementary education double major, also talked about a challenge from having to get to North Haven High School by herself.
“There is no way to improve my game without spending gas driving off campus to a separate place off campus,” Ertman said. “For those who don’t even have a car on campus, they would have to ask someone that does have a car on campus to drive them as well.”
Burke said there is a GroupMe chat that players use to arrange rides when needed.
One good thing about North Haven’s courts Burke mentioned was that it saves her a lot of time with parking as parking is an issue at Quinnipiac right now.
With the ongoing construction of the $45-million new health and wellness center, Quinnipiac plans to relocate its six tennis courts to the North Lot, which will further eliminate 145 student parking spots.
Even though Burke and Ertman support the relocation so students can enjoy tennis courts without leaving campus, Burke said “it’s a shame” that students will lose more parking spots.
The university hoped to complete the relocation by the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, which did not happen because the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) has yet to approve it.
A North Haven High School official told The Chronicle that there is no formal contract in place for its sports complex’s rental to Quinnipiac as the usage of tennis courts is a courtesy as a result of the university’s past voluntary donations to the town.
The New Haven Register reported in 2018 that former President John Lahey donated $700,000 to North Haven. The Chronicle also reported that Quinnipiac presented the town with a $400,000 check in 2016.
The tennis courts relocation faced opposition because part of the plan includes the installation of eight new 50-foot light poles in the area where the zoning regulation only permits a maximum height of 35 feet.
Hamden and North Haven residents submitted petitions against the approval of the light poles citing light pollution that will affect people in the residential area and wildlife.
Quinnipiac Vice President for Facilities and Capital Planning Sal Filardi told The Chronicle in July that these light poles are night sky-certified and that there will be little to no impact on the environment.
On the other hand, the Hamden Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) also received many supportive letters for the university’s variance request. The letters were mostly from Quinnipiac affiliates from top administrators to student leaders, tennis players, faculty members, alumni and parents.
As the public hearing with the ZBA for these light poles kept being postponed, Quinnipiac was not able to get approval for the overall tennis court relation plan.
Natalie Barletta, the administrative assistant to the ZBA and the PZC, told The Chronicle that Quinnipiac’s variance application for light poles is scheduled for Oct. 21, with the ZBA. She said no public hearing for the whole tennis courts relocation is scheduled as of publication.