Archive for Monday, March 19, 2012

City Hall in volley between players, neighbors over tennis court lights

March 19, 2012


Taller poles, a bigger budget, but some of the same old concerns: That’s the latest scorecard when it comes to the controversial topic of adding lights to tennis courts near Lawrence High.

City parks and recreation leaders have received an engineering report that details a plan to add lights to the eight tennis courts near the former Centennial Elementary, 2145 La. The report indicates a design change could allow lights to be added to the tennis complex with minimal amounts of light leaking onto nearby residential properties.

“Basically, we’ve learned, yes, we can do it,” said Mark Hecker, the parks and maintenance superintendent for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “Now, the question is, should we do it?”

City commissioners likely will decide that issue in the next few weeks. City officials are discussing the latest proposal with both Centennial Neighborhood residents and Lawrence tennis enthusiasts, who have been clamoring for more lighted courts since renovations at LHS removed eight lighted courts in 2009.

The plan does have its challenges. Hecker said engineers are estimating the design would increase the city’s costs to install the lights by about $80,000 to $100,000.

The design also would require a city variance allowing for 70-foot light poles — instead of the maximum 60-foot poles — to be installed. The taller poles, engineers say, would allow for the lights to be shined more directly downward onto the court.

But residents who live near the courts said they’re still not convinced the plan will protect their homes from being impacted by the lights.

“Most of what we have been told will work on paper hasn’t worked in the real world,” said Dan Coleman, who lives across the street from the tennis complex.

Neighbors have lodged several complaints about lighting, drainage and other issues related to a host of athletic field improvements completed at Lawrence High within the last several years.

Now, neighbors are asking the city to look for other options to accommodate the tennis-playing public that wants access to evening courts.

The city had been in discussions with Kansas University to add lights to eight KU courts along Naismith Drive, as long as the university would allow the courts to be open to the public. But Parks and Recreation leaders were told recently KU is going through several planning processes that doesn’t allow the university to commit to the long-term future of the courts.

Neighbors, though, said they want the city to also consider adding lights to the five courts at Free State High, which is more isolated from a residential neighborhood.

But some members of the Lawrence Tennis Association said having only five lighted courts would make it more difficult to run tennis tournaments or conduct weeknight league play. Plus, association members said it seems fair that the city light eight courts, because that is how many were lit prior to the LHS renovations.

“To us it seemed like the deal was that we would get back what we lost,” said Grace Vogel, a board member for the association.

But board members said they’re also sympathetic to the concerns of neighbors and are looking to ensure the city has proper facilities that will allow tennis to continue to grow in popularity.

City Hall leaders haven’t yet set a date for city commissioners to take up the issue, but they’ve indicated it could be on a commission agenda as soon as March 27.


FireMikeHill 2 years, 1 month ago

Let Mike Hill go talk to them. He gets away with everything!


halfpint 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't understand why 5 courts at Free State is so undesirable for tournament and weeknight play. Plus, are there any free lighted courts for public use available at all for people on the west side now? Maybe that would add a service for that part of town.


mikekt 2 years, 1 month ago

They have had the similar lighting issues in Leawood, ks., only it was over private court lighting illuminating someone else's adjacent home. Who would choose to buy into living next door to a lighted tennis court, where people were playing tennis all night, as if playing tennis is a silent process that generates no human noise, car traffic, or people just hanging out noisily waiting to play? I'd say that somebody would like to change the rules on those home owners, for their own selfish ends, in the middle of a expensive game, by attempting to force others to live with a brand new nuisance project, that perviously wasn't there, when the complaining neighbors bought into their homes.


asixbury 2 years, 1 month ago

I have never heard so much complaining about lights before I moved to Lawrence. Get black-out curtains and the problem's solved. If you live in the city, there is going to be lights. Move to the country or darken your windows if it bothers you. Find something better to complain about.

I used to live by a park that had, guess what, tennis courts, along with the lights. It did leak into my house, but big deal. I closed the black-out curtains in my bedroom and the light was gone! Crazy how that works.


patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

unknown to many lawrencians alot of the working class (you know, the ones with real jobs) go to bed by 10 pm, so they can get to WORK the next day these are the ones that pay taxes not the layabouts who play all nite and sleep all day


somedude20 2 years, 1 month ago

I have been to many concerts that were well lit just by using cell phones. Here is the easy fix. Step: 1) invite a number of people to the game who have cell phones 2) Make a mix tape of songs like "Every Rose" or "Home Sweet Home" or "Wanted Dead or Alive" or "Is This Love" or "Winds of Change" 3) Play CD and watch the court become lit with light that will not bother the tax payers around the school.


rockchalker52 2 years, 1 month ago

It's only until ten o'clock at night, for Pete's sake. That's not very late, especially during DST. Light 'em up.


Rick Aldrich 2 years, 1 month ago

build a new skate board park that'll shut the neighborhood up!


buffalo63 2 years, 1 month ago

"report indicates a design change could allow lights...with minimal amounts of light leaking onto the nearby residential properties." However what Mr. Hecker fails to point out is this minimal amount DOES NOT meet current city code for light leakage. If the Parks and Rec could have met code from the start, the lighting would already have been done.


Matt_K 2 years, 1 month ago

They should move the tennis courts to the Prairie Meadows neighborhood... The new lights won't bother us. All we have to do is get Westar to supply them with electricity. On second thought, I suppose that's asking too much of Westar!


Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

Shout Drainage and Astroturf!


Richard Heckler 2 years, 1 month ago

USD 497 spent $20 million or more on this PLAY project and forgot to work in non polluting lighting and sensible drainage. How can that be?

Of course USD 497 can blow off city codes if my memory serves well. USD 497 certainly blows off the taxpayers.


patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

follow the tennis player home, shine a spot light in his bedroom window when he goes to bed and listen to him cry and whine the tennis players i know are great crybabies and whiners


deec 2 years, 1 month ago

If the tennis crowd wants tourney quality courts, let 'em build their own on their own dime where they won't interfere with established residents' use of their property. Adult playgrounds are not a core function of government.


grimpeur 2 years, 1 month ago

Back to square one. All for totally unnecessary bling. And, of course, for parking.

USD497 needs to put the lights up right now. Forget what the city promised. Cancel the deal they made with the district. It never should have been agreed to. USD497 took what was, so they need to put it back.

Another casualty--along with fiscal sanity and educational priorities--of the rush for more and more parking and monument-to-the-board stadiums. Bad citizenship by the school district.


irvan moore 2 years, 1 month ago

ya know, if they put the lights up and they put out to much light they're going to leave em since they spent the money.


Boston_Corbett 2 years, 1 month ago

I feel a cold front a-comming.....

I wonder why the neighbors are not more seriously accorded?


Clickker 2 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully...along with these,...that would make 16


kernal 2 years, 1 month ago

If we build the new rec center in West Lawrence, will it have lighted tennis courts?


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