In a special meeting this week, four council members voted to cancel the construction contract for two new tennis courts at the10-court tennis park. Earlier this month, Mayor Jerry Thorne, after meeting with neighbors upset by the construction plan, halted all work.
The decision sends the masterplan for the tennis park, that also includes other recreational sites, back to the staff for rethinking.
A couple of things are notable:
• How quickly the mayor, council and staff moved once it became clear how many residents were upset with the plans. It was estimated that about 200 people attended the special meeting this week—a very strong turnout that the council heeded (that there’s an election in November perhaps enhanced the response).
• How carefully developed masterplans, even when they are updated, can miss the needs or desires of the community.
The masterplan was originally developed and approved 40 years ago in 1984 and the first 10 courts were constructed more than 30 years ago in 1994. The city staff as well as the parks and recreation commission updated the masterplan in 2012 followed by the council’s adoption in 2014. So, there was plenty of traditional public process that somehow missed the current residents of the neighborhood and how they use the park.
The nearly $500,000 construction contract was approved earlier this year and work was underway when the neighbors cried foul and reached out to the mayor.
What’s also interesting, as one who cut his teeth writing sports in the valley, many, many moons ago, is how interest in tennis and golf have diverged.
In those days, I covered a PGA Tour event at the Round Hill Country Club in Alamo as well as an outstanding Davis Cup match pitting the United States again Romania and featuring the top two players in the world, Stan Smith of America and Ilie N?stase of Romania.
At the time, tennis and golf had relatively the same level of interest at the local level as well as the national sports scene. Since that 1973 event, the PGA Tour has taken off with plenty of American stars (headed by the incomparable Tiger Woods), while tennis in America garners little interest other than in a few hot spots. The international tennis tour, on the men’s side, is dominated by non-Americans and has been for years.
Consider that golf is on network TV 40-plus weeks a year, while tennis makes the networks only for three majors, including the U.S. Open in New York later this month.
And my sense is even at the local country clubs that have tennis pros and facilities, golf dominates.