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City recreation leaders not in favor of lighted tennis court plan near Lawrence High

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All we need now is John McEnroe, or absent that, somebody in white 1980s-style tennis shorts with an excitable personality.

Yes, we’re talking about the looming tennis court debate that will be coming to Lawrence City Hall. As we reported last week, city commissioners have decided to reopen the issue of whether eight tennis courts near Lawrence High School should be lighted.

At the time, however, we didn’t have a date for when the commissioners were to have a public hearing on the issue. Well, the commission now has a tentative hearing date of June 4, at its 6:35 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

There’s been one other development in the matter: The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board brought up the issue of lighted tennis courts for the site, and it is clear recreation officials aren’t on board with the idea, largely because of concerns about cost.

In case you have forgotten, members of the Lawrence Tennis Association believe lights should be added to the courts to make up for lighted courts that were lost when LHS renovated its campus. Neighbors in the area have opposed the lighting plan, expressing concern that it will be just one more example of LHS facilities creating a neighborhood conflict. They think the light will spill onto their properties.

City officials already have agreed to build eight outdoor lighted tennis courts as part of the city’s recreation center in northwest Lawrence. Several city officials thought that put an end to the issue, but members of the tennis association said they still see value in having lighted courts in the LHS area.

But at a recent meeting, the top officials at the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said they couldn’t support the idea of lighting the LHS courts and building the eight lighted courts at the recreation center. Cost was one reason they cited. They now estimate the cost of installing lights at the courts — which are on the property of the former Centennial Elementary school — at about $240,000, if done in a way to minimize light spillage. When the project was first proposed a couple of years ago, the department was planning on spending about $100,000 to light the courts.

Plus, the city would have to enter into a maintenance agreement with the school district to help make any future repairs on the courts. Parks and Recreation officials aren’t sure they want to do that, because two of the courts already are showing signs of needing significant repair. Currently, all maintenance is the responsibility of the school district. (In case you are wondering why it wouldn’t be the school district’s responsibility to add lights to courts it owns, the answer is because the district says it doesn’t really need the lights for its high school programs. The lights mainly would accommodate city residents that use the courts.)

Members of the tennis association are passionate about the issue and well-organized. They also note that the needs in the area are changing because KU will be losing most of its public courts on campus when the new School of Business building is constructed.

So, we’ll see how the debate goes. Let the volleying begin.

Comments

LeBo 1 year, 5 months ago

Anything for Free State! I you don't support LHS then sell your home. The market is coming back, so moving should not be a problem. It is okay to pay for KU's sports but replacing the lights on the tennis courts are not okay.

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

You do realize its all the same school district right, just different buildings

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Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

I wasn't too privy on the Rock Chalk Park discussions, and did not realize that moving ALL the lighted courts out there was part of the package. It's just unfortunate that everything would be concentrated in one section of the city and not spread out.

I still consider having lights at the LHS courts would be a great benefit and allow those on the east side of town the option of walking or biking to a close community asset (instead of having to drive clear across Lawrence).

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

clear across lawrence? Those 4 miles are really killer. And you do realize that right now everything is centered on the East, us on the West side have to trek "clear across Lawrence" driving for like 10 minutes to get to things on the other side.

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Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm thinking big picture and advocating access for all. Not just those that are able to drive. As another comment stated, it's not just for adults, but kids also.

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gatekeeper 1 year, 5 months ago

There are plenty of other lighted courts in town. There are a couple at 19th and Lousiana. There are some in the Deerfield Area, some off Iowa and some in N. Lawrence.

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Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

See below. Not as many as you think.

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patkindle 1 year, 5 months ago

this is terrible, the city of Lawrence is denying the rights of small children in the area who cannot drive, to play tennis after dark, call the lta and tell them you support their efforts, with a big check l

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

Buy them a bus pass and if they are not old enough to ride a bus in the evening alone they probably shouldn't be out in the dark anyways.

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tvc 1 year, 5 months ago

Currently the bus stops running at 8 and doesn’t run on Sundays.

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workinghard 1 year, 5 months ago

There are lighted courts at Veteran's park complete with play equipment for the small children whose rights are being denied.

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joes_donuts 1 year, 5 months ago

Nobody in East/Central Lawrence can complain about the facilities being out west. The "not in my backyard" has forced it all the way west, which is the only area without many neighbors.

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frankieandlola 1 year, 5 months ago

Everyone seems to want to demonize the LTA. I happen to know they are good people that don’t want to further harm the quality of life of the LHS neighbors, and they have gone to great lengths, time and personal expense to come up with a plan for those no-spill lights that meets city code (it does naysayers, believe it or not) and is a compromise for everyone. It is my understanding that the neighbors agreed to this plan. In writing nonetheless! I don’t think it is too much for the LTA to ask that that the city replace all of the lighted courts that have been and will be (KU Robinson) demolished. If 16 lighted softball fields were razed to the ground with no replacement for years would there be no public outcry?!

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cowboy 1 year, 5 months ago

Anyone know how many members the LTA has ?

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patkindle 1 year, 5 months ago

praise the lord and the lta those folks are righteous

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John Pultz 1 year, 5 months ago

this isn't about the LTA; they are just advocates for the recreational needs of the city. Tennis courts are hot in the summer: hot surface and no shade. One way to play in the summer is to play after dark, when the sun goes down and the air cools off. I grew up in the South and public tennis courts were packed on summer nights after dark.

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Catalano 1 year, 5 months ago

Wow. $100K of my tax dollars for LTA. Or $100K of my tax dollars for security at City Hall. Decisions. Decisions. Maybe we can use $100K of the funds for Rock Chalk Park...there oughta be at least that much available now that the bids have come in, and surely Fritzel could figure out a way to wrangle it to make it work.

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clovis_sangrail 1 year, 5 months ago

Why does everyone assume this should be a free service?

Install the lights, and then put them on a meter and charge a per hour rate for using them. Set the rate high enough to cover the necessary utilities and ongoing maintenance, plus enough more to recover the construction cost over a reasonable period of time.

Then, if someone wants to play in the day time, they should go for it.

And those who simply must play at night are welcome to feed the meter and pay for what they use.

Better make sure those meters take credit cards, and probably also should make sure they take American Express, because my guess is that the special people in LTA are not prepaid MasterCard debit card people.

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citizenkane 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm sorry, but when do taxpayers get to call bulls*&t on the LTA.

This self-absorbed group of whiners needs to come to terms with reality. The city doesn't owe them a thing; the school district doesn't need the lights; the neighbors aren't going to tolerate their nonsense, and parks and rec. has come up with a compromise that will serve the needs of just about anyone who wants to play tennis at night. Everyone that is, except for the whiny Lawrence Tennis Association members, who are too lazy and cheap to drive four miles out of their way to play tennis for FREE.

This group has tried every underhanded smoke and mirrors approach to getting their way, regardless of the cost or impact to others. They conducted a "survey" that recorded neighbors who agreed with their plan and deleted those that did not. They advocate for the installation of lights in spite of the fact that the engineering studies have shown that the courts won't support the weight of the poles without undermining the court surface and creating significant cracking. What a great idea! Let's ruin LHS' facility for the public school kids so that the adults don't have to pay for court time. Really???

An expenditure of $240,000 to serve how many members of this private club? Maybe 50 at most? $5,000 per member? Are you kidding me?

The members of the Lawrence Tennis Association should stop wasting our public officials' time and focus their attention on raising the money they need to play under the lights the way most serious adult tennis players do- GO JOIN A TENNIS CLUB AND PAY FOR YOUR COURT TIME!

Let's be honest, tennis is a lot like golf. It's a pay to play proposition. Welcome to the new millennium, LTA. It's time to sit down, shut up, and go home. GAME OVER!

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Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

How about you take your indignation and direct it towards the Rock Chalk Park. These courts are also a part of LHS.

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John Pultz 1 year, 5 months ago

Actually, the movement within tennis is to become a less elite sport. But to become less elite, people like you need to change your attitude and support public facilities for the sport.

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frankieandlola 1 year, 5 months ago

What, tennis should be played before sunrise?! Really, you think so?! I didn't catch it the first three times you made that argument so I'm so glad you said it for a fourth time here. I have a great idea, let's carefully extract all of the sports lights around town and sell them to the higgest bidder! None of the sports facilities, not softball or basketball or the skate park are being used all day every day as they should be so by your rationale none of them should be deserving of lighting. Let's yank them out of the pool too because OBVIOUSLY all community outdoor sports should be done during the day. All of this can be easily accomodated because noon has a JOB to go to. Oh wait, or before the sun comes up. Which, the last time I checked...was DARK. All these elitist sports: softball, basketball, football, soccer, team and individual tennis are draining our taxpayers' pockets for lights. Funny how it has never been a problem before but apparently we have to draw the line somewhere.

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

People who play team sports under the lights pay about $30 a game, are you will to do that to play tennis?

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frankieandlola 1 year, 5 months ago

You really think each softball player pays $30 a game to play? That would be $300 per team per game! Wow, only the elite must play softball. Softball players pay $30 for the entire season, nice try though. People who play team tennis and parks and rec pay too. I guess we should start charging all of the youth who use the lighted skate park $30 apiece!

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

I didn't say that each person paid that a game, that is what the team pays, tennis has no teams so you would have to pay that as an Individual sport to play for them to be able to have money to turn in the lights and maintain them, if you play basketball the price is about $60

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frankieandlola 1 year, 5 months ago

Huh, I wonder what the world TEAM tennis is they advertise on the LTA website then? It apparently started 4/28 and each participant paid a fee. There are also USTA league teams advertised. Wow, seems like with the tiniest bit of online research you might not sound so obtuse. Maybe you ought to go blog on a different article, where you know more about what you are preaching. Guess what else the tiniest bit of research might educate you about? The money for these lights was allocated years ago when they originally tore down and rebuilt the Lawrence Tennis Center. Yep, that's right. The city commission doesn't have to scrounge up funds for this project at all, money has been earmarked for lights on those courts all along. They just need to make good on their promise.

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clovis_sangrail 1 year, 5 months ago

OK, I just looked up the city parks and rec website and it says there are lighted tennis courts at the following locations --

Deerfield Park, 2901 Princeton Blvd. Holcom Park, 2700 West 27th St. Lyons Park, 700 N. Lyon St. Veteran's Park,1840 Louisana

Is there something wrong with these?

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Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

Deerfield - 1 Court, unpainted concrete, decent condition Holcom - 2 courts, painted, good condition (good location for neighborhood access) Lyons - 2 courts, painted, good condition (GREAT for the North side of town, they deserve it) Veteran's - 2 courts, painted, decent condition (although they tend to get occupied quickly)

The there are 8 courts at the LHS site. Seems like we would get a lot more courts for the minimal amount of lighting necessary.

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clovis_sangrail 1 year, 5 months ago

I would not call anything that costs a quarter of a million dollars "minimal."

Other than Deerfield needing a paint job, is there any real problem with the existing lighted courts?

Are they already being used to capacity? If I drive by them tonight, will I find a line of LTA members waiting for a chance to use them?

And what about Jayhawk Tennis Center (used to be First Serve) and Alvamar Raquet Club?

It seems to me that opportunities for whacking tennis balls after dark abound in this town.

And sadly, there is not a single curling sheet in town. In the whole country. Probably not one in Kansas.

I am reminded of the old expression "I wept because I had no tennis lights, until I met a man who had no place to curl."

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gatekeeper 1 year, 5 months ago

If you drive by the ones in N. Lawrence, you'll see some residents of N. Lawrence using them, but both courts are rarely occupied at all times. People that don't live in N. Lawrence think we're all trash and refuse to come over here. We like it that way, but the idiots don't realize that we have a nice park with nice courts.

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Michael Shaw 1 year, 5 months ago

Why all this finger pointing? The city's plan was to replace the tennis center, and to this point it has not been completed. Why not simply finish it?

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workinghard 1 year, 5 months ago

"Veteran's - 2 courts, painted, decent condition (although they tend to get occupied quickly) " Really? Hardly ever see anybody playing tennis in the evening. Basketball, yes, tennis, no.

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workinghard 1 year, 5 months ago

Friday night, no tennis players

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Alceste 1 year, 5 months ago

Maybe the Lawrence Tennis Association could hold a Bake Sale like the schools do.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

Except for one major issue. The expansion of sports facilities throughout the school district is part of PLAY. It was described as phase one of PLAY.

The NW field house project is also part of PLAY. PLAY is the responsibility of the city or perhaps both the city hall and USD 497.

However if I were among the neighbors would I want flood lights in my backyard after many decades of privacy? Absolutely not. Poor planning is the issue.

This matter should have been resolved before installing the tennis court. Constructing new tennis courts 10 miles across town as the answer certainly makes no sense either. Poor planning.

This is what happens when city hall allows the developers and the Chamber of Commerce to be the planning department. The planning becomes a missing element. Then again the Chamber of Commerce is the executive committee for the real estate/ wrong development industry.

To compound the issue a few years back, if memory serves me well, it seems that city hall adopted a lighting policy that would address the light pollution issue anywhere in the city.

Is the school district exempt from this? It should not be.

PLAY is too expensive for Lawrence taxpayers. It might be wise to investigate how much more money is delegated to this PLAY project. This may be a never ending project. In fact some may be ongoing at Clinton Lake.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

BTW what happened to the tennis courts in the park at 31st and Louisiana?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

Light up this group of courts instead...

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