City Mayor, Frank Murphy, greeted me and my tennis friend, Dr. Terry Kappel, at the front door of City Hall last night. "Welcome. What topic are you here for?" He asked while shaking hands.
"Tennis," I replied. "My name is Michael Mulligan."
Terry and I took our seats in the front row. We didn't have to wait too long to speak since we were listed number four on the agenda. A large crowd filled up the room due to a controversial issue regarding the city streets. Mayor Murphy opened up a public hearing fifteen minutes into the city hall meeting and allowed both sides to present their views. Once they shared their opinions about the city streets, my buddy and I were asked to give our input about the tennis courts.
"I'm an outsider from California who moved here over a year ago," I stated to city council members. "I play competitive tennis with Dr. Kappel and Jerry Powell from Powell Funeral Homes. The grass growing in between the cracks on the high school tennis courts here in this community make the courts unsafe. Unfortunately, we have to drive to Iowa City to play. Please consider re-surfacing the tennis courts so we can play in the community where we live."
The council members asked us a series of questions. The director of the multimillion recreational facility located on the property adjacent to my home was present in the audience. One of the council members asked her, "Is it possible to find space to build new tennis courts at the rec center?"
"We're pretty crowded now," she responded. "The soccer and baseball fields are already at capacity. Can I get back to you?"
The next question was directed at me. "Michael, if you had a choice, where would you prefer to play, the rec center or the high school?"
"I prefer the rec center," I answered. "It's an amazing place. New tennis courts at the rec center would be a great complement and it would attract more tennis players. Tennis is a sport people of all ages can play. I can see a lot of people in their retirement years using the courts at the rec center and the youth would have one more option."
Mayor Murphy thanked us for our time and advised us they would get bids on resurfacing the dilapidated tennis courts at the high school and compare them to bids for new tennis courts at the rec center.
Before I exited City Hall, one of the council members said, "Michael, you're no longer an outsider. You're now a part of our community."
Terry and I thanked the council members for listening to us and we walked outside.
"How would you rate our conversation with the council?" I asked.
"A ten," Terry answered. That's the same rating I give my new community. Thanks to the generosity of the Holden family, the city of Williamsburg is one of the best places in the world to live. 40% of the world's corn comes from seed developed by the Holden family. When the family sold their business to Monsanto, they donated some of the proceeds from the one billion dollar sale back to the community. The Holden's funded a first-class rec center and a retirement center so beautiful, it's referred to by locals as "the castle."
I look forward to the day when people ask me where I play tennis and I answer, "in my backyard, right next to the cornfields." I'm truly home now and I'm living in a real-life field of dreams. Have you ever appeared before City Hall to present an idea? Please share what happened in the comments section below.