Full court press: Love for tennis courts pre-empted by parking needs at Bear Mill Estate

By on July 13, 2016
The century-old clay tennis courts at Bear Mill Estate, 50 Weaver Road, Denver, are slated to become onsite parking. Owner Kerry Kegerise for years attempted to preserve the courts. With extensive landscaping, the new parking area will be screened from the street, he said. Photo by Alice Hummer
The century-old clay tennis courts at Bear Mill Estate, 50 Weaver Road, Denver, are slated to become onsite parking. Owner Kerry Kegerise for years attempted to preserve the courts. With extensive landscaping, the new parking area will be screened from the street, he said. Photo by Alice Hummer

The century-old clay tennis courts at Bear Mill Estate, 50 Weaver Road, Denver, are slated to become onsite parking. Owner Kerry Kegerise for years attempted to preserve the courts. With extensive landscaping, the new parking area will be screened from the street, he said. Photo by Alice Hummer

A century of volleying tennis balls over clay courts at a popular East Cocalico venue is just about to become history.

“The time has come,” said Bear Mill Estate owner, Kerry Kegerise, when asked about conversion of the more than 100-year-old clay tennis courts to on-site parking.

The courts, while significant for their age, are not on any official historic register. Kegerise’s house and the mill are listed in the U.S. Historic Register.

“The tennis courts were built in the early 1900’s by Richard Heisey, from the Denver National Bank,” said Kegerise. For many years the courts operated as a private club.

“When I started restoration of the site for an event venue, I opted to preserve the tennis courts and sought an exemption for valet parking,” said Kegerise.

Kegerise explained that costs for the valet service are $1,200 per event. Usually this amounts to thousands of dollars per month.

Many people who come for events are from out of the area. They’re reluctant to use the valet service. They don’t know to where their car is being taken. (Parking space is rented from nearby F and M Hat Factory.)

“We’ve had guests parking along the road, which is not safe,” Kegerise said.

At times the tennis players do not adhere to safe parking. Kegerise needed additional liability insurance to cover the tennis playing activity.

“All I ask of those who use the tennis courts is that they leave the area in the immaculate condition in which they’ve found it,” Kegerise said. “And, this has not always happened.

“The time has come where I’m going back to what the township approved in the first place. I assure you, like everything else here, the parking will also be done immaculately.”

East Cocalico Township Zoning Officer Tony Luongo said the zoning hearing board was very concerned about parking at Bear Mill, and Kegerise wanted to preserve the tennis courts. He reached out to three nearby businesses for rental parking space.

Luongo said FEMA designates two terms: flood plain and flood way. The tennis courts are not in a flood way. They are in a partial flood plain, where structures would not be permitted due to disrupting the flow of water. The parking lot would not disrupt any water flow, he noted.

Luongo said Kegerise’s plans for extensive landscaping and the screening achieved will make it difficult for anyone from the road or an adjacent property to realize that the parking lot is there.

“He can begin the conversion of the courts to parking when he’s ready,” said Luongo. “We know his plans will enhance the already beautiful property.”

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