A History of Bayside Tennis Club: The View from 1983

The  following history of the Bayside Tennis Club was prepared by Tom Beight  (with input from George Reese) for the Club’s 1983 Winter Newsletter.   It was sent to all Club members by the Board of Directors and Officers. 

The  Board of Directors of the South Bethany Recreation Association, Inc.,  trading as the Bayside Tennis Club, thought it might be of interest to  all members to publish this Winter 1983 Newsletter to inform all members  about the history of the club, how the club got started, where we are  now and conceivably where we can go in the future.  We hope that this  newsletter will be of interest to each member during the holidays and we  welcome your suggestions, comments and criticisms, in the hopes that we  can make the club more enjoyable to all members and their guests in the  future.  First, the HISTORY… 

The South Bethany  Recreation Association, inc., was incorporated in the State of Delaware  in 1974.  The name South Bethany Recreation Association was used because  it was originally conceived that the tennis courts were to be a  recreational facility of the Town of South Bethany. 


In late 1973  when Goodwin Taylor and George Reese were Town Commissioners of South  Bethany, Mrs. Elizabeth (Iggy) Hall, the owner of the land that the  tennis courts now sit on and widow of the original developer of South  Bethany, came before a Town meeting to tell the people how much she  loved the Town and how important it was to her and her late husband.   Mr. Reese suggested, at the conclusion of her presentation, that what  the Town lacked was recreational facilities and a site for a Town  Administrative office.  Mrs. Hall said that she would do what she could  to remedy that problem and did, in fact, deed land to the Town for a  Town Hall and a park which has yet to be developed. 


While these  negotiations were moving forward Mr. Reese and Mr. Taylor conducted a  survey of the South Bethany citizens trying to assess the level of  interest in constructing a tennis facility which would be sponsored by  the Town.  In the middle of these negotiations with Mrs. Hall, the other  members of the Town Council decided that this was not a realistic way  to spend the Town’s funds in that it would benefit a minority of the  Town’s tax payers.  At that point, approximately 30 people responded  favorably to the survey and each forwarded a $50.00 deposit as requested  in the survey.  With these potential members in hand and Mrs. Hall’s  concurrence, Mr. Reese and Mr. Taylor decided to move forward outside of  the confines of the Town Government.  A ten-year lease at $1.00 a year  for two acres of the northwest corner of the Town was negotiated with  Mrs. Hall.  The lease also contained an option to buy the ground, which  was exercised.  The decision was made to incorporate and draw up legal  documents.  The legal documents were drawn under the supervision of  Richard Ridgway, Esquire. 


When Mr. Reese, Mr. Ridgway and Mr.  Taylor committed themselves to the project, the areas of responsibility  were divided with Mr. Ridgway handling the legal, Mr. Taylor the  construction and Mr. Reese the promotion of membership and P.R.  The  contractor that they selected was George Lynch & Company, who had  constructed the tennis courts for Sea Colony and which company had done a  great deal of road work in the area.


During the construction of  the courts, attempts were made to secure a loan from the Baltimore Trust  Company, which Bank was unwilling to get involved with an untested  non-profit organization without appropriate security.  During this same  period of negotiation and construction, the membership grew to almost 60  who were committed to paying a total of $300 for the first year of  operations and then $50 a year thereafter.


After three or four  outright rejections from the Bank to finance the project, Mrs. Hall was  persuaded to subordinate the land to a loan from the Baltimore Trust  Company, the proceeds of which were used to pay for the construction of  the courts. 


At this point in time, Tom Keech, an accountant by  trade, was interested in the project and became the fourth key member  when it was apparent that the club needed accounting and tax advice.  Mr. Keech did an admirable job making several trips to the IRS office in  Wilmington in order to clarify the club’s tax status.  When the club  became operable the original named of the club was “Iggy Hall”.  The  name was changed to Bayside Tennis Club.


Mr. Reese was the first  president of our club in 1974 and Mr. Taylor was the second president in  1975, Mr. Ridgway was the third president in 1976 and Mr. Keech was the  fourth president in 1977.  The fifth president was Arthur Leib in 1978,  who provided the membership with yeoman services during the early  years.  He acted as the accountant and bookkeeper for at least three  years and was deeply involved in the negotiations for the purchase of  the land and financing of the purchase. 


So, as we can all see  from this brief history, the club owes its existence to its original  founders and the efforts of those that have continued to give of their  time in order to make the club the success that it has been in the past  and that it is today.  To continue this record will take talents of all  of us in the future, because as we all know, the Bethany Beach area is  projected to increase its summer population four-fold in the next ten  years and, as the population increases, so will the demands on the  highways and recreational facilities in the area. 



The  club closed out its fiscal year September 30, 1983 with $7,083.83 in  the Bank.  The projected revenue for fiscal 1984 is $14,500, of this  sum, $10,400 must be paid against the mortgage leaving only one more  payment due in the summer of 1985.  We owe $3,775 to eight former  members who have left our ranks.  We hope to pay off the top two on the  list after the spring revenue begins to materialize.  So, as you can  see, the club is solvent and will be debt-free in the summer of 1985.



What  does the future hold for the club?  Well, that is up to the  membership.  We can stay where we are and maintain what we have or we  can plan for the future.  Your Board of Directors has decided to look  into the future and will establish a permanent five-year planning  committee whose members will be appointed in the near future.  This  committee will conduct a survey of all members to determine what the  desires of the membership are for the future.  One thing we know for  certain is that the demands on the courts will increase and the four  courts that we have will need to be resurfaced in two or three years and  the fences need to be reset.  Should we bring in water?  Build a club  house with bathroom facilities?  Add two courts?  Increase the  membership?  Raise the initial cost of membership to increase our  working capital?  All of these questions need to be answered by the  membership.  So, when the survey comes to you, take the time to respond  to let the committee know what your individual desires are. 



Finally,  a word is in order concerning the “closing of Pine Street”.  Pine  Street was never legally opened so it hasn’t been closed.  All through  the years, all but eight feet of Pine Street was owned by Middlesex.   Our club owned the remaining eight feet.   The South Bethany easement  that everyone took for granted as being the road bed of Pine Street  actually ran along the fence line of courts one and three and maybe  inside those courts by a couple of feet.  Years ago (around 1900) when  the original survey of South Bethany was made, the easement was located  over our ground for the most part, plus eight feet of the Pine Street  road bed.  Legally it was never used and as such legally abandoned.   What Middlesex did was simply to file suit to declare the easement  abandoned and to enjoin the continued adverse use of what we know as  Pine Street.  Middlesex merely reclaimed the exclusive use of that which  was theirs all the time which as you can see worked to our advantage.   The club did, however, cooperate with Middlesex in an effort to divert  the flow of traffic by planting the sapling pine trees.  In doing so, we  also have exerted domain and control over what has been our parking lot  all the time, but which also served as a short cut through Pine  Street.  In short, we regained what we could have lost permanently and  in addition we have the use of the old road bed that bounds the point of  our lot line to the north for additional parking.



In  closing, the Board hopes that this newsletter has been informative and  we trust that all of you will pitch in during your trip to Bethany next  season to help us maintain and protect the club.  There is always the  lawn to cut, trash to pick up and haul away, fences to repair and  perhaps paint and repair the “office”, all of which will contribute to  the good times ahead.  In closing from all of us to all of you—Happy  Holidays.



Bayside Tennis, located adjacent to South Bethany water tower on Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach, DE.
Bayside Tennis, located adjacent to South Bethany water tower on Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach, DE.