Archive for Wednesday, June 6, 2012

City, school district considering lights for Free State High School’s tennis courts

June 6, 2012, 5:18 p.m. Updated June 7, 2012, 11:34 a.m.


School district and parks and recreation leaders hope they have hit a winner with a new plan aimed at ending a long-simmering neighborhood debate over lighting tennis courts near Lawrence High School.

The Lawrence public school district has filed a plan with City Hall that would abandon the lighting project at LHS, and instead expand and light courts at Free State High School.

“It just hasn’t worked out at Lawrence High,” said Tom Bracciano, director of facilities and maintenance for the school district. “There are some repairs that needed to be done to the Free State tennis courts. We think with the city it can be a nice replacement for the old Lawrence Tennis Center.”

Kirsty Elliott, a Lawrence tennis instructor, serves up some tennis balls at Free State High School.  The school district's new plan would put in tennis lights at Free State High School.

Kirsty Elliott, a Lawrence tennis instructor, serves up some tennis balls at Free State High School. The school district's new plan would put in tennis lights at Free State High School.

Plans call for the five existing courts at Free State to be rebuilt to correct deteriorating court conditions. The project also would add three new courts to the east of the existing courts and add lights for night play on all the courts.

The project has emerged as leaders with Lawrence Parks and Recreation have struggled to come up with a plan to light eight courts at Lawrence High. Neighbors have objected to previous lighting plans, citing concerns the light will spill over to their properties.

The Free State site is farther removed from any homes. The site is not as centrally located as the Lawrence High courts, but parks and recreation leader Ernie Shaw said the facility does have good access and ample parking.

“It seems like it can be a real good option that won’t make a lot of people mad,” Shaw said.

The project, though, is not a done deal. The city and the school district will need to reach an agreement on cost sharing of the project. Bracciano estimated that reconditioning the existing courts would cost $350,000. Adding three new courts and lighting for all eight courts would drive the total cost to about $547,999. He said the school district could donate the land, but has not budgeted to do tennis court construction.

Shaw said his department will present possible financial options for the project to the City Commission in the next several weeks.

The city does have some money budgeted for tennis court improvements. The city has been looking to replace the eight-court Lawrence Tennis Center, which was lost in 2009 as part of Lawrence High’s expansion of athletic fields.


NotASquishHead 5 years, 8 months ago

Here's a thought... send the bill to all of the whining Lawrence High neighbors. Once again, a few people cost the rest of us taxpayers a lot of money. The empTy, the library, etc,etc, etc...

Andrew Boyd 5 years, 8 months ago

and let the whining start about how east Lawrence is getting screwed by this plan...

NotASquichHead: i agree with you 100%

Salvia 5 years, 8 months ago

The tennis courts at LHS are already cracking. Let's hope the district gets a different project manager for the Free State courts, one who will not waste thousands of dollars on courts with poor drainage and improperly installed wiring for lights, Let's hope seating for spectators will be placed properly and maybe have restrooms and water.

Laura Smysor 5 years, 8 months ago

Salvia is spot on! Who is responsible for the Lawrence High courts? What a disappointment!

Bigdog66046 5 years, 8 months ago

NotASquishHead actually you should send the bill the all the whinners at the lawrence tennis club. Those very few people are the ones complaining that the city needs to pay for them to have lighted courts and 8 courts to play on.

nativeson 5 years, 8 months ago

I believe the City was committed to $100,000 for the lighting at LHS. Why should they be asked to fund another $250,000 for a very small group of citizens who use the lighted courts?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 8 months ago

Many of us feel the same way about the empT, the library, the LAC, and the homeless shelter.

We continue to throw good money after bad and wonder why the taxes are so high.

halfpint 5 years, 8 months ago

Cheers to city staff, commissioners, USD497, tennis players, and neighbors for coming up with a positive solution to this issue. This is a good idea and all should be commended.

kusp8 5 years, 8 months ago

Nope, in the age of budget cuts this should have been one of them. Go ahead and get the courts fixed, that's a good idea. But if the Lawrence Tennis Club wants to play after dark then they can pay for their own facilities.

Also, I'm in agreement there's no reason why this needs to go out to Free State. Just tell the neighbors to shut it.

rtwngr 5 years, 8 months ago

If there is already issues with the current tennis courts, it seems to me that the general contractor and the architect of the project have some explaining to do. There is absolutely no reason these should be deteriorating after so little time. Maybe it is the low bid best bid rule that bought the city what it got.

deskboy04 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought the school district and city were having budget issues. I guess I was wrong.

Glo 5 years, 8 months ago

City was not involved in the building of the courts at LHS.

justcause 5 years, 8 months ago

Why are we letting a handful of neighbors control the improvements to our school facilities? Why do they have so much power and leverage? I promise you that there are 100 times more people who have opposing views but they are the ones being heard. We are ALL taxpayers and they have no more rights than the rest of us. The music at the ball fields is not blaring at 10:00 at night nor will the lights be shining in your windows after bedtime. Get a grip. Find something else to bitch about. Better yet, come enjoy a high school sporting event and support the youth in our community. Now there's a thought!! And, USD497, quit rolling over and get in the fight. For real!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

What are you complaining about? There'll be lighted courts-- just at Free State, not LHS.

Topple 5 years, 8 months ago

Glad we're concerned about lighting some tennis courts instead of paying teachers.

Topple 5 years, 8 months ago

Glad we're concerned about lighting some tennis courts instead of paying teachers.

Matt O'Reilly 5 years, 8 months ago

By itself, I have no problem with this. However, if the rec center also gets built, it seems like we'll have an awful lot of facilities in that corner of town. I wish something could have been worked out at LHS so we'd have a bit more even distribution.

Andrew Boyd 5 years, 8 months ago

Coles_law are you kidding me east lawrence (this includes the LHS area) has most of the facilities. holcomb park, east lawrence rec center, library, university ok Kansas, need i say an more this east verses west crap has got to stop in this town. the days of holding back things from one side of town because its not fair that the other side won't have it are crap.

Glo 5 years, 8 months ago

Coles_Law: You will still be able to play at LHS courts, they will just not be lighted, You will probably find the courts at LHS even more useable, since the Tennis Association will not be reserving the courts several nights a week.

4getabouit 5 years, 8 months ago

I play on the LHS courts. They are great. I don't see any significant cracks other than the usual concrete wear. I also don't care if you light them.

Stephen Roberts 5 years, 8 months ago

It is about time. Before the district decided to build the sports facilities at LHS - didn't those court have lights??? Yes they did... People who play tennis were only wanting to have want they had before the district choose to relocate the courts.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

The $20,000,000(million) tax dollar project continues to become a never ending tax dollar money hole.

The newest multimillion tax dollar money hole aka the fieldhouse hs moving along on fast track with no real $$$ numbers to talk about. We know it won't be free no matter how the project is presented. How is this fiscally responsible?

How can anyone comment on a project without the most important part on the table = $$$$$$$? Is this responsible government?

Windemere 5 years, 8 months ago

The piece of land east of the existing Free State courts is used very frequently by the Free State soccer teams. They only have the one "real" field (the turf one). Not sure about girls, but the boys have 3 teams, Varisty, JV and C team. The site of the proposed tennis courts is often the practice field for the soccer teams. It's also the only place where teams can warm-up on game days (e.g. for JV home & visiting teams when the turf field is being used for a match by the C or Varsity teams). Do not put tennis courts there that we do not need. The current Free State courts are almost never full. No need for this costly change. A change that will do a lot of damage to the soccer program.

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