Money once slated for tennis center likely going to roads

The state Legislature is poised to revoke $4.4 million in grant funding for an indoor tennis center in West Anchorage, which would end a controversy that has been unfolding since the money was tucked into last year's capital budget.

Mayor Dan Sullivan announced at the Anchorage Assembly's meeting Tuesday evening that the House of Representatives had taken the $4.4 million and reappropriated it to road projects in the West Anchorage district of Rep. Lindsey Holmes, the Republican who had originally pushed for the funding.

The House has not yet approved the capital budget, but it's unlikely that the reappropriation will be changed, Sullivan said.

"The Legislature giveth, and the Legislature taketh away," he said.

The money for the tennis facility was the subject of a lengthy debate between the Sullivan administration and his opponents on the Anchorage Assembly -- some of whom said that they had not approved a request for the funding, and felt the money could be better spent on renovations to city ice arenas.

Several state legislators also said that they had not been aware that there was money for a tennis facility in the capital budget when they voted on it last year. The money was contained in a line item for "deferred and critical maintenance."

Sullivan, a tennis player and former coach, had personally pushed for the state funding. But, asked if he was frustrated with the Legislature's move to reappropriate the money, he responded that "it's probably frustrating for the Alaska Tennis Association."

That group had made the formal request that state legislators put money towards the tennis facility.

"They did a lot of work to get to this point," said Sullivan.