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SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2007
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Attempts to pop bubble around tennis courts fail

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com · 340-2441

Vandals struck the bubble again.

Since becoming operational in December, the inflated dome at the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center behind T.C. Almon Recreation Center has been vandalized twice. The most recent act of vandalism occurred Memorial Day weekend.

Curtis Thomas, T.C. Almon supervisor, said his staff found a metal rod protruding from the bubble. When removed, the rod, about 2 feet long, left a hole in the bubble the size of a baseball. According to Thomas and Tommy Wade, the city’s tennis director, the metal rod did not cause deflation. The rod blocked air from escaping and the vinyl material of the bubble is durable.

Paul Floyd, facilities and operations manager for Parks and Recreation, said the bubble was easily fixed.

“We used a double-sided vinyl sheet and a super adhesive and basically did a simple patch job,” he said.

Repairing the bubble required more skill the first time it was damaged, Floyd said.

In early March, the first act of vandalism caused the bubble to lose air. Vandals used a knife and slashed the bubble five times. The staff at T.C. Almon said the damage to the bubble caused it to start flapping in the wind.

“It’s like repairing a balloon when it is blown up,” Floyd said.

Floyd hopes that a fence being built around the perimeter of the tennis center will stop the vandalism.

“When the fence is built, the only way to get to the bubble is to go through the tennis building or over the fence,” he said.

Two questions no one has answered are: Who is vandalizing the bubble and why?

Thomas and Wade speculate that the vandals could be anyone from campers lodging near the courts to local residents who are enticed by the bubble.

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