Tennis courts are one step closer to reality at Claggett Creek Park after the Keizer City Council unanimously approved them Monday.
It’s a reversal from the stance a divided council took in 2010, when the group appropriated $50,000 of parks development charges for a similar complex at Keizer Rapids Park.
Four adult-sized tennis courts would be paired with four kid-sized courts, with construction starting in 2013. Included in the proposal is expanding the park’s parking lot on Dearborn Avenue NE.
The association’s plan anticipates about $302,000 in initial costs to build the courts, with another $140,000 in lighting in the plan’s second phase. Day-to-day maintenance would be handled by KTA, which would also pay 85 percent of resurfacing costs approximately every decade. The group is asking the city to cover 15 percent of that cost.
Rhonda Rich, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, read a letter from her board in support of the proposal.
“We feel that the location at Claggett Creek Park is desirable due to it being centrally located to all of Keizer,” Rich said. “It is in very close proximity to several grade schools and middle schools, thus giving our children another opportunity for recreation while still allowing the use of the park for soccer games and an open playing field.”
Several residents on 13th Avenue NE, a portion of which runs parallel to the park, testified against tennis courts at the park.
“You’re paving over the grass for a tennis court for a certain section of people to use,” said Vernal Gatchet. “What about the rest of us who don’t play tennis? You’re taking away a third of the park.”
Laura Scales, who has lived in her home for more than 30 years, said adding tennis courts would push out people who play volleyball there or simply sit under trees.
“I think the park is going to lose a lot more than it gains by having the tennis area right in the area that people use more than any other portion of the park,” Scales said.
But Dennis Koho, a former Keizer mayor who supports the tennis plan, said it’s not the same as taking someone’s backyard over.
“What this proposal is is to convert one public use to another,” Koho said.
It’s a modified version of the plan that divided city councilors in 2010. The Keizer Tennis Association sought six full-size courts at Claggett Creek Park, winning the votes of Councilors David McKane, Mark Caillier and Cathy Clark. The mayor and remaining councilors voted for a plan supporting tennis at Keizer Rapids Park instead, and has appropriated $50,000 in parks systems development charges to help build them.
Bill Lawyer, the city’s interim public works director, is recommending the Claggett Creek site. He said lack of properly-designated space and other circumstances make it almost impossible for KTA to seek grant funding or donations for courts at Keizer Rapids.
A KTA-conducted poll of residents on nearby 13th Avenue NE were mostly supportive of tennis courts at the park. Mayor Lore Christopher said at a February council meeting she wants to see those residents asked before committing to support tennis at Claggett Creek Park.
Councilor Jim Taylor changed his stance from two years ago, but was concerned that constrained space wouldn’t allow the tennis complex to grow with time.
The association would provide lessons, leagues and tournaments for residents, promote partnerships with local businesses and continually raise funds to maintain the courts and build up capital for future facilities, according to its business plan.
Within city limits there’s a total of six courts: Four at McNary High School and one each at Willamette Manor and Bob Newton Family parks. The school’s courts are in great shape after recent resurfacing, but the two city courts are in poor condition. There’s also tennis courts at nearby River Road Park, just south of the Keizer city limits.
The KTA would manage the courts under a maintenance agreement and requests exclusive concession rights at the park.