To the editor:
City commissioners and staff are contemplating a new plan to light the tennis courts in Centennial neighborhood. Another lighting plan was discussed last fall but tabled when the city wisely realized light spillover would be unacceptable. The new plan costs nearly twice as much — in the ballpark of a quarter-million dollars — and would degrade the structural soundness of the facility, repairs and maintenance, for which the city would be responsible going forward in partnership with USD 497.
These courts were poorly planned (with no room for side-view bleachers, spectator seating is available at only one end of half the courts) and poorly built (a water retention system consisting of 48-inch pipes lies just beneath much of the court surface, which is already cracking). They were crammed onto sloping ground too close to residential properties in a neighborhood where they didn’t fit.
The plan to light them up would come at a huge, ongoing expense to the city. Tennis courts lighted until 10 p.m. on most nights of the year would add more light, noise and traffic to a neighborhood already struggling to adapt to the addition of numerous other athletic facilities. Surely we can find a more functional and affordable way to provide access to lighted tennis courts. Partnerships with other facilities or lighting the Free State courts, which are further from homes, are just two ideas. Our neighborhood, the city, and the tennis players of Lawrence deserve better.