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When are new tennis courts and Tennis Center going to be developed and built in Palo Alto

Original post made by Richard on Nov 19, 2006

With possibly a thousand new houses/condos/residents being built and planned for South Palo Alto additional tennis courts are going to be needed in South Palo Alto, especially. A new Mithell Park Library and Community Center will probably require that several of the tennis courts in or near Mitchell Park be relocated or eliminated. This was a big issue in the previous plans for a new library/community center in the 2002 plans/election. The tennis players need to get organized and demand more tennis courts and or a tennis center like the volley ball players did to get their complex on Page Mill Rd..

Comments (21)

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2006 at 1:03 am

The current options being discussed for the library and community center leave the tennis courts in place, where they are.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 20, 2006 at 11:12 am

Richard,

I am a member of the City of Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission. We studied this, with the help of staff and tennis community advocates, quite extensively just over a year ago, and the conclusion was that the tennis court demands are being met by the existing tennis court inventory. It is not perfect, you cannot always get a court where you want it, when you want it, but adding courts, we concluded, is not indicated at this time. It would be nice to light some more courts, by the way, but that does not require adding courts.

Having said that, the Commission is undertaking a comprehensive "playing areas" analysis, in which we are analyzing what the demand and supply is and is projected to be for all playing/recreational activities, indoor and outdoor, in the next 20 years. Our hypothesis is that there may be demand for certain activities (indoor volleyball for example, requiring gym space) which is not being adequately met, and convesely, there may be certain things that are in oversupply (although nothing springs to mind) that could be converted to an alternate use.

If you have information that you think can help the Commission with its analysis, whether it pertains to tennis courts, or other playing area uses, by all means bring it to the Commissions of the Community Services departments attention. In the case of tennis courts, there are some existing documents available, and I encourage you to review them as you are developing your thoughts.

Also, based on what was presented to the Commission at its last meeting, the tennis courts at Mitchell Park are not affected by any of the proposed building configurations proposed.

Paul Losch
Member
City of Palo Alto Parks and Recretion Commission


Posted by John, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2006 at 12:48 pm

Tennis Courts: If more are necessary, recondition the courts at Jordan, and put up some lights. Of course, this assumes that there is cooperation between the school district and the city. Also, open up a bathroom at PALY. I don't see a strong need at this point, because the tennis boom has diminished, and some courts go empty.

Soccer and other cleated sports: Put artificial turf at all fields at Greer (this will also benefit baseball and softball out there). In general, put artifical turf on all currently available fields. The increased efficiency will be a huge help (and save money over the long term).

Baseball: Recondition the fields at Jordan and JLS. Build higher fences/screens. Again, use artificial turf. Soccer (and other sports) can share the 'turf'. The schools will benefit big time.

Indoor (gym) sports: If gym space (e.g. volleyball, badmitton, table tennis, basketball, etc.) are maxed out, then there is a need for more gyms. Has anyone talked to the owner of the gym next to Frys? That might be a possible win/win leveraged deal. If a new gym is truly needed, how about that spot on the corner of Greer Park (currently an empty lot full of weeds)? Is it possible to attract private/public use?

If expansion is clearly needed, then don't leave the PA dump site off limits. I've always wondered why this thing is such a sacred cow. It would be much better than chopping up the golf course (I don't golf!). Has anyone considered putting some fields on top of industrial buildings, like they do in Berkeley? I have heard that there is some talk of putting a field on top of the upcoming reservoir at El Camino Park - good idea! If a new large scale condo development wants approval, why not require them to include a gym or playing field as part of their project (leveraged to make it a win/win)?

Welcome public/private partnerships (including private exclusive use for certain time slots). In general, use all of our potential resources. I think the Mayfield playing field deal was great! It showed real creativity and realism.

If the library group would begin to think as creatively as the Parks/Rec Commission (and city staff) has done, it would already have it's library(s).

This is not rocket science, but it does require political and economic realism.


Posted by J.L., a resident of Ventura
on Nov 20, 2006 at 1:35 pm

John, a few things.

Opening up bathrooms at a public school facility presents major security problems. It won't fly.

There are already adjoining neighborhood complaints about game field noise at Jordan. Adding to those fields isn't going to fly unless hours are strictly limited.

The gym space at Fry's is a tony, high-end facility that is not at all the sort of thing one would leverage for public use.

You cannot require developers to do all the heavy lifting for providing community recreation facilities. Yes, it's possible to win partial add-ons, but the requirement you propose would take many, if not most, development projects off the table.

What's your library solution? Seems like everyone has one - let's hear yours.


Posted by John, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2006 at 2:03 pm

J.L.,

A bathroom at a school can be left open, if a janitorial staff guy is left a key to close them at a certain point - with police patrol backup (similar to Baylands Athletic Fields). If that doesn't satisfy you, then put in a porta-potty. Those courts at PALY could get better use.

Jordan fields: Sure, enforce the time slots. I am well aware that the word "enforcement" is almost alien in Palo Alto, but it is time to grow up.

Fry's gym: Frys wants some consideration (and help) to expand. Zoning rules that benefit Frys (and benefits the gym problem) shouldn't be a big deal, unless some people want to make it one.

Private developers: No, they shouldn't be required to do the heavy lifting, but they should be incentivized to help out. For instance, the city could allow a different footprint or height limit, in return for that gym or playing field. If it's not a win for the developer, it won't happen (I agree with you on this point).

Libraries: I think libraries are a thing of the past, due to the Internet. However, I understand that many people still like them, including my wife. Given this premise, there are two basic answers:

1. Consolidate into one big library (like Mt. View)

2. Forget the big library approach, and keep some local branches (with coffee and tea bars) and computers. The idea would be to have the book on hand within two days.

But don't expect to have both. Also, it is up to the library group to come up with public/private solutions. I hear about some realistic public/private solutions among the playing fields gang, but I mostly hear whining from the library crowd.


Posted by J.L., a resident of Ventura
on Nov 20, 2006 at 3:46 pm

John,

The tennis boom is pretty much over; current tennis court capacity in the city is underused - you're claiming a problem where none exists. Police patrol backup for trips to the bathroom at Paly, for tennis players??! A permanent porta-potty on a PAUSD facility, to serve tennis players (or any athletic group)??!! Good luck.

You're making assumptions about Fry's that don't hold. How do yo know that Fry's wants help and consideration to expand on that site? I have heard very different things from other (large) principals in the consumer electronics retail business. Also, burdening Fry's with helping to define a solution for lack of gym space in Palo Alto isn't exactly the carrot that will keep Fry's here. You're looking for leverage where it doesn't exist. Walk into that gym sometime and tell me what it woudl look like as a community gym, and then tell me what it woudl do to the branding promises made by the owner to now-paying patrons.

In fact, libraries are a thing of the future, as exibited by the increase in library use since the Internet became an everyday reality in our lives. If anything, we will continue to an increase in library use as they morph to education, cultural and comunity activity centers.

We'll probably never have just one big library here, unless we join the County system, which isn't likely at this point. And, we can't maintain branches w/o a strong base foundation provided by a large collection, which necessitates a "main" structure in addition to the branches (i.e. "root and branches")

The Library Foundation and FoPAL already participate in public/privae library ventures - e.g. Children's, and many other projects. There's always a chance for more of that. Palo Altans will probably find a way to maintain their branches, as well as build out our library system to one that pays back the community far more than the community invests.

I was watching an LAC meeting last week, and from what I saw and heard, that group has its act together. They've managed to maintain in a sea of local controversy about libraries. the library issue has some real movement.


Posted by John, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2006 at 4:19 pm

J.L.,

I thought I made it pretty clear that I do not think tennis is in current need. I was trying to argue that, if it was, PALY and Jordan could pick up the slack. There is no need to build new courts, since the current courts can be made more efficient. You seem to want to argue against such efficiency, but I do not. Porta-potties are (or were in the past) at Jordan, so what is the big deal at PALY?

If Frys wants to exapnd on its current site, and the current attitude is to limit it's expansion, why not make a real deal? Let Frys expand, but deal in a gym. Forget about the pipedream of transportation/location (it IS pie-in-the-sky, and an absurd dream!)

Libaries are a thing of the past. Get used to it. The Internet, and it's fallout, is the future. Just ask yur kids! Plese be specific about public/private library plans. Is there a group of privates willing to step up to support/remomodel a branch library? All I hear is a bunch of whining.


Posted by J.L., a resident of Ventura
on Nov 20, 2006 at 4:39 pm

John,

Why pick up "slack" when there is no slack. You say yourself that there is no need; the current city tennis court supply is sufficient. Why create a problem with school tennis courts, porta-potties, etc. etc.? No demand, no problem. Case closed.


You're going on and on about Fry's without even knowing for sure that they want to stay here. Who says they do? I have heard from very highly-placed consumer electronics execututives that Fry's is not guaranteed to stay here. Can you quote any highly-placed Fry's executive - recently - that has said the opposite, and promised to stay? None have. I think you're trying to make another "thing" hapen that has no basis in on-the-ground reality. As for your gym idea, it's a non-starter. Yuo're making wild assumptions about the current lessee in that space. Did you invest in the gym? If not, you're just another voice in the wilderness.

You're wrong about libraries. Get used to libraries continuing to grow, as they have ever since the early days of Netscape. All I'm hearing from you isi wishful thinking about some fantasy that libraries really aren't usefeul, when usage numbers show the clear opposite. You have no case.

As for whining, what seems to be surfacing from your series of posts is whining about problems that don't exist, and exhorting Palo Altans for not agreeing with the imaginary world that you've created.


Posted by John, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2006 at 6:19 pm

J.L.,

You seem to be living in your own fantasy.

Traditonal libraries ARE a thing of the past. The main arugument for them, in Palo Alto, is social, not access to books. The Internet allows access to most books, even better than libraries. If you want to argue, like my wife does, that libraries are improtant centers of social interaction, I would agree with you. But my wife only rarely checks out anything. She likes to go to the library to meet her friends, and reference an occasional book (usually online). The future only suggests more of the same.

The future, in Palo Alto, is MORE kids, not less. This is the result of the demand for more housing. I happen to like more kids, unlike some in this town, so I support more playing fields. I also like to see adults out there running around, becaue it is good for them, and they like it. It is good for health. Good body, good mind.

If this city decides to empahsize the next generation, instead of the last, it will decide to provide more playing fields and fewer libraries.

Libaries are being displaced by local coffee houses as social clubs. It is not about books, anymore. It IS a social thing. Let the branch libraries become social clubs, and let the Internet, through these social libraries, provide the books (om loan). For instance, if the College Terrace library would agree to become a social club, with great coffee and tea, it would attract many more people in its doors. It could become a real center of citizen action. Books would be part of the situation (via a small bank of computers), but the main thing would be about the neighborhood.

BTW, can you provide specific details about the private support for libraries? I hear a lot of talk, but not much action.


Posted by Andrew, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2006 at 11:01 pm

Regarding the Palo Alto tennis courts, I think we ought to first consider developing a regular budget to maintain and improve our existing courts. The community may then consider using the facilities more regularly.

Mitchell Park and Rhinconada require much needed resurfacing. Paly's courts are newly resurfaced, but the lights require a man-made string and ball just to keep the lights from going out immediately, and there are leaves covering the last two courts nearest the Paly pool and court 7. Regularly scheduled washing of the courts would be helpful.

I can't comment on Jordan's courts, but I do recall them being in extremely poor condition/practically unplayable for many years. That would be another location to improve and potentially add lights.

I have noticed that with a little bit of management (i.e., look at Mountain View's Questa Park) Mitchell could become a central location for a number of regular tennis leagues. We might even want to consider enclosing a couple of courts there, to create indoor facilities, for the more rainy season.

But first we need to get our courts into better shape. Let's develop a plan for improvements and regular court maintenance, and then determine the appropriate budget.

An enthusiastic Palo Alto tennis player,
Andrew


Posted by Brad, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2006 at 11:46 pm

I represent Web Link; a free tennis ladder with very active divisions in Palo Alto. I agree with Andrew. A regular budget to maintain and improve the existing courts would greatly increase activity on the courts.

Brad


Posted by J.L., a resident of Ventura
on Nov 21, 2006 at 1:45 am

John,

You said "Traditonal libraries ARE a thing of the past".

Why then, may I ask, is library circulation and use INCREASING? Your argument about preferences regarding access to books is a pure projection of YOUR experience. As you go on about turning libraries into coffee houses, yuor argument apears to become more and more bogus. Who would support that? It's utter nonsense. Apparently, not everyone acts and thinks like you do; thus, your disconnect with library reality.

As for private library partnerships, perhaps you shuold check out the Library Foundation and Friends of the Library websites, respectively. You will learn something.

Further, what if libraries do evolve to becone cultural, educatoin, and social interaction centers? If communities demand them for that, so be it.


Next, you say: "The future, in Palo Alto, is MORE kids, not less", and so on, about physical interaction. Your point? how does that relate to oyur expensive request to redo school tennis courts? Tennis has bottomed out - you said so yourself. Why not roller rinks? Gosh.

How about more skateboard tubes? That would make more sense. I think you're bottoming out, John. Maybe you should go for a walk, or go play tennis on one of the many unused tennis courts in town?

By the way, this city needs to emphasize BOTH young and old, so more playing fields AND library access is in order. Why all this zero sum nonsense, John? This is a great community, with good people, they want to win, not compromise; watch them make this happen.


Posted by Juliet, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2006 at 10:07 am

J.L., you say you watched the library commission last week and it has its act together. Which meeting was that? the Daily had a headline about them experiencing "sticker shock" maybe I misunderstood?


Posted by Reader, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2006 at 10:24 am

Wow, a netscape for books for free. I would love it. I read too many books to buy and keep all I read. I love the idea of being able to order a book online, have it brought to my door for me to read, so that I don't have to worry about library hours, parking, finding the book I want is available, etc.etc. Does this service exist? Do I have to pay? what length of time can I have my book for?

Or is this just pie in the sky?


Posted by Andrew, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2006 at 12:51 pm

Would the people involved in the "Library" chat be so kind to create a new topic so that we can continue to maintain the focus of this particular message board topic, namely, the Palo Alto tennis courts? Thanks.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2006 at 1:39 pm

one final comment in the library vein - FYI I assure you that Paly teens ARE using/checking books out from physical libraries, not just Googling everything they have to research. I have to drive my teen quite often to the Los Altos Library in order for him to obtain the works he needs for class reports, projects! We see no indication of lessening of interest in public libraries! Most public libraries are crowded with all ages.


Posted by J.L., a resident of Ventura
on Nov 21, 2006 at 5:24 pm

Juliet,

The Daily said "sticker shock". But that was The Daily. So?


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2006 at 12:58 pm

I think the City learned its lesson when they tried to build a library/community center over the tennis and paddle ball courts at Mitchell Park with Measure D. They won't make that mistake again if they want the proposed new library bond passed. The tennis courts at Mitchell are safe for years to come!!!!

Perhaps someone from the Parks and Rec Commission can verify this, but I thought Council approved the building of tennis courts on the spare piece of land at Greer Park, but at the moment there is no money to build them. How about making the City owned newly refurbished tennis courts at the Winter Log available for general play, after all the tax payers of Palo Alto paid for the improvements?

As for a gymnasium, part of the agreement with the Taube/Coret Campus for Jewish Life is that the City will get to share some of their recreational facilities. Also the gym at the Cubberley Community Center is rented by the City from the PAUSD and is presumably available for use.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2006 at 1:06 pm

The two gyms at Cubberly are well used, particularly at this time of year, Basketball (YMCA and NJB) as well as other uses, plus the other big room, but I can't remember what it is called. Gym use is at a premium because this is the time for indoor sports. At present some Palo Alto teams have to practice at gyms in Redwood City, Menlo Park, etc. and it is a real pain to get to them as students can't ride their bikes there.

How is this for an idea? Stanford wants to increase its hospital, why don't we ask for them to build us a gym in return? They are usually accommodating when they want something badly enough!


Posted by John, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 22, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Parent,

I like your idea about horse trading with Stanford! It would be a win-win. Similar to the Mayfield deal(soccer fields). Maybe the new gym could be put at the Alma shopping center (old Albertson's site). This would provide badly deeded gym space, the developer could get more of what they want (e.g. density), and Stanford would pay for it. Stanford would save more than the cost, becasue it would get fast tracked through the PA process. Very creative, Parent.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 22, 2006 at 5:35 pm

Paul Losch, Member of Parks and Recreation here again.

I responded earlier/above in this trail about the tennis courts demand overall and where things are with the Mitchell courts--the building configurations being considered for the library and for the recreation center, or the combination, will not affect the courts. The current concepts are public record, if someone wishes to see them. Nothing is final, but I cannot imagine at this point another round at that level of analysis that could result in the Mitchell tennis courts being compromised. In my opinion, it is safe to say they are safe.

The Commission recommended that the patch at Greer be covered with grass for now. There was an extensive effort with the neighborhood folks from Mid-Town about this, and many options were considered. The documents are public record if someone is interested. Putting grass and a few picnic tables on it gets something done there after all these years of it being an eyesore, and leaves some flexibility for something else in the future, should a very compelling need be identified. A small soccer field and tennis courts both were looked into, along with some other options. Wind, noise from the roads, accessibility, among other things led to the Commission making to Council the recommendation that it did. Sad to say, it is not the most wonderful little patch, but at least it will have some landscaping and a picnic area--that is an improvement. I don't know off hand when that is scheduled to be done, but I can check if someone asks me to.

As regards more indoor gym space, that actually is my "assignment" on the Commission as we try to flesh out what playing area demand, both indoor and outdoor, is projected to look like in Palo Alto's future. My findings so far bear out that we are indeed short of gym space, and many activities such as community volley ball leagues, and more basketball, for example, could quickly fill any new capacity that comes on board. Maybe that little patch at Greer is a candidate, maybe something joint with Stanford is possible, both worthwhile ideas.

But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Commission has as one of its priorities to understand the types of demand for playing areas that the community is expected to have. We are moving at a good clip (considering we are all volunteers, and this is a public issue! ;+} )

I suspect we will have our findings about projections in the first half of 2007. We actually have our annual planning meeting next Tuesday night at City Hall for those of you brave enough to attend and observe, and this topic will be part of the discussion. Until we get those findings done, it will be premature to identify specific options for gym space or anything else, but please keep the idea flow coming, there will come a time I hope in the second half of next year when it starts to become actionable.


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