A meeting about light turned up some heavy discussion Thursday evening in the cafeteria of Lawrence High School, 1901 La.
Seventy-five members of the tennis community and the neighborhood attended in hopes of voicing their opinions on a proposal that would bring recreational lights to the tennis courts near the Lawrence Virtual School off Greever Terrace.
The lights have become a hot-button issue. Members in support of the proposal want more lighted courts, while residents in opposition worry the lights will decrease property values and disrupt normally peaceful evenings with excessive light and noise.
Representatives from Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department briefly discussed the issues before opening the floor to questions and concerns. Lawrence resident Mark Gridley spoke his mind in front of the crowd, receiving many nods of approval from those listening intently.
“The neighborhood association has been burned over and over with the promise of expensive lighting,” Gridley said. “Then up goes the cheap lighting, the spill goes everywhere and it’s too late. It’s already up.”
Gridley said he felt the lights from the courts, which would turn off at 10 p.m., would keep residents from sleeping and pollute the view of the stars.
According to the Parks and Recreation Department, Lawrence has seven lighted and 15 unlighted courts available. In 2009, the numbers were reversed before construction moved eight of the courts from LHS to their current Greever Terrace location. The lack of lighted tennis facilities has limited the time and number of league and tournament activities the local tennis community has been able to provide.
“It’s one of the classy sports,” said Kay Pettit, a zoning and codes officer. “The problem isn’t a lack of courts, it’s a lack of lighted courts.”
Resident and tennis enthusiast Jon Giullian attended the public meeting.
“I try to sympathize with the neighbors,” Giullian said. “I try to put myself in their place. If it was my neighborhood, as far as the tennis courts are concerned, I’d look at it as a positive thing.”
Comments from affected residents will be collected and reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Department before being presented to the City Commission for further review. No timetable has been set for the item to appear on the city agenda.