I Chevy Ventured my way down to the mean streets of Emard City. I wanted to look in on Matha Park. As you'll recall the four tennis courts were padlocked last Wednesday at 4 pm by the St Jean de Matha Church on Allard and Dumas.
The church is in a financial hole and wants to sell off the adjacent land for around $2.5 million. The land contains a small ball field and four tennis courts.
The courts are the fulcrum of the Montreal South West Tennis Association (ATSOM) run by Norman Rothsching, who I've known for several years and is a stand up guy. They promote the sport in the Ville Emard, St. Henri and Cote St. Paul area. I think they dreamed of putting a roof on the courts to make them year-round, I think that would cost $400,000. Or maybe I thought of that.
The borough Mayor Benoit Dorais, who is a Harel Man, complete with a little Quebec flag lapel pin, mistakenly believed that the lease would be renewed automatically. This is how it has been working for many years but according to the church they had many meetings with the elected officials warning that this was going to come to a head, so it's hard to know who is right.
Voting a Harel candidate as borough mayor might not have been the greatest thing that Ville Emard ever did. It's a little hard to visualize Montreal coming up with the $2.5 million to buy the court that would in turn serve to make the oppositional Dorais shine.
Also, there's a housing shortage on the island and the tax revenues coming from condos are a lot more alluring than the continued existence of a tennis court.
Yesterday afternoon the four tennis courts were open, with an attendant there. I don't know what the new arrangement is that allows people to play without insurance coverage but the attendant was too busy on an urgent longlasting cell phone call to talk to me.
Initially, after the lock was put on someone had cut a hole in the fence to get on the courts but it was no longer necessary yesterday. The padlock was off and all playing was legit, except for two guys at the end who were just hitting non-stop two-handed backhands surely just to bug me. There's still a big sign on the court saying 'land for sale" with a phone number of the church on it.
A save the park rally attracted about 150 on Sunday morning, or so I am told.