The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to build two new courts at the Pleasanton Tennis Park at an estimated cost of $600,000, rejecting a recommendation by its Parks and Recreation Commission for a $1-million project.
Only Councilwoman Kathy Narum voted against the council majority, arguing that the more expensive plan would save parking spaces that will be needed in the coming years.
The council's action followed an order by the council Aug. 9 to stop construction of two new courts after residents of nearby homes complained they would be too close to their homes and would take away grass areas the public used.
Construction fences that had already been erected with bulldozers ready for demolition work were quickly removed as the council directed city staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission to look for a better plan
Tuesday, the commission recommended three alternatives, but favored Alt. 3 that would call for two separated courts requiring extensive site preparation work at an estimated cost of $990,000. That plan also would require the removal of 17 trees at the Hopyard Road and Valley avenue corner, including at least three "heritage" trees.
The council majority said no and chose the commission's less expensive Alternative 1 plan. Although it will require demolishing 15 parking spaces, fewer trees will be chopped down and the two new courts will be close to the tennis park's main building. It's also estimated that bids for that proposal could come in closer to the $494,353 bid submitted for the earlier plan that drew neighborhood complaints.
Councilman Jerry Pentin led the opposition to a motion by Councilwoman Karla Brown to approve the more expensive third alternative, which was backed by Narum.
"We're talking about tearing down 17 trees, including three heritage trees, to save 15 parking spaces," Pentin said. "I just can't connect with that proposal. I don't understand that thinking and can't support it at all.
Councilman Arne Olson agreed, saying he could support the more expensive plan if city staff put an $800,000 ceiling on any construction bids.
"I'm worried they (the contractors) will see us coming if we approve this expensive plan," Olson said.
Thorne said that while there's no question that more courts are needed at the tennis complex, the proposal by the Parks and Recreation Commission is too costly.
Tom Murphy, an avid tennis player who has long advocated building more courts in Pleasanton, said the cost for Alternative 3 are just too high.
"I've researched this on the Internet and found that the average cost to build a tennis court ranges from $50,000 to the highest at $100,000," he said.
Murphy also pointed out that Santa Clara University recently completed a tennis complex for $2.5-million that includes nine championship courts, lights, seating for 750, meeting facilities; a hospitality reception area and a main building with lockers and all.
"I urge all of you to take a deep breath before approving this costly plan," Murphy told the council. "Tennis players have waited a long time for more courts to be built. Maybe we can wait a little longer."
With the council's approval of the basic two-court building plan, city staff will now refine the proposal before advertising for construction bids.