Pleasanton officials and tennis enthusiasts celebrated the grand opening of two new lighted courts at the city's Tennis and Community Park last week.
Constructed over the past half-year, the nearly $1 million effort increased the park's court count to one dozen, a total envisioned by the city for three decades and formally prioritized by the City Council in 2014 but then put on hold and reconfigured two years ago after neighbors protested the original location eyed for courts Nos. 11 and 12.
"Many of us doubted this day of two new courts would ever come, but it came indeed, and it was wonderful," Councilwoman Karla Brown, an avid tennis player, said in an email interview Wednesday afternoon.
Brown joined Mayor Jerry Thorne, council members Kathy Narum and Arne Olson and local tennis players earlier that morning for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the park located at the Valley Avenue-Hopyard Road intersection.
The two new courts, sitting atop what used to be part of a horseshoe-shaped grass area between Tennis Park's two parking lots, serve to help address a shortage of available space for tennis players and complete the long-term vision at the park, according to city officials.
"Tennis is a very popular sport in Pleasanton with high school and youth players competing with adult players and leagues to play on our public courts," Brown said. "About four years ago, Pleasanton completed a Parks and Rec Master Plan, listing a shortage of tennis courts in town as a top priority."
"Now more residents can enjoy the sport played in Pleasanton by tennis players of all ages and skill levels," she added.
The effort was years in the making to bring the final two tennis courts to the public park at 5801 Valley Ave.
The Tennis Park's original master plan from 1985 envisioned 12 tennis courts, but the count had stayed at 10 since the mid-1990s. The city's Parks and Recreation Master Plan update in 2014 identified the need for more tennis courts in town, and the council that year prioritized two more courts at Tennis Park and set aside capital improvement program (CIP) funds for the project.
The city had a nearly $500,000 contract in place in June 2016 with a construction firm to build the two courts, but those plans were scuttled after ensuing community protests over the new courts' location.
Dozens of residents, many saying they had no idea about the expansion until seeing construction fences up at the park, opposed the 2016 design, arguing the new courts would be too close to their homes and take away grass areas the public used. They voiced their disapproval in protests at the park in July 2016 and turnout in the council chambers.
The council debated the project and in December 2016 endorsed a new court placement that offered less grading, lower price and a location farther away from neighboring homes but still centrally positioned within the park, compared to other alternatives presented. The final location did remove 16 parking spots from the park's lots as well as six trees, including one designated by the city as a heritage tree.
The council approved the final project costs last May, which came out to $83,000 for design and $860,000 for construction -- in addition to nearly $145,000 in expenditures to that point for previous work for the project, according to city officials.
Construction started early last summer.