Boyle Park Tennis Court Rehab Gets Back on Track – Money Hunt Begins

City officials get positive reception to proposed renovation of public tennis courts, but financial hurdles remain.

Nearly nine months ago, Wendy and Eric Crowe could barely hide their disdain as the Mill Valley City Council deliberated over the possibility that the city would pay for at least a portion of the much-needed overhaul of the tennis courts at Boyle Park, which date back to the 1930s.

But the disdain of the longtime members of the Boyle Park Renovation campaign, which has been raising money for nearly five years to help the city pay for renovations of the aging city-owned courts, has been replaced by cautious optimism in recent weeks.

“I feel very positive all of a sudden,” Wendy Crowe said. “I see we’re definitely moving forward. Now I want to get other members of the tennis community excited about it again.”

The “again” part of Crowe’s response references prior fundraising momentum that she said subsided when the tennis community became uncertain of City Hall’s interest in upgrading the public facility.

City officials have sought to get the long-delayed renovation of the courts back on track, and the Mill Valley Parks and Recreation Commission heard a presentation last week from a consultant on an overhaul of the aging courts. Both city officials and local tennis advocates hope the newfound momentum can spur the renovation.

“It’s going to be a beautiful addition to our community,” Crowe said.  “The city seems very committed to doing this and that’s really great. We’re hoping we can stimulate more contributions with that information. People get skeptical when nothing happens for a while.  But with the city getting behind it, there’s reason to be excited.”

The proposal calls for a moderate renovation of the “upper courts” away from the streetfront and an extensive renovation of the three courts along East Blithedale Ave. that are riddled with cracked and slippery surfaces and bad lighting that longtime users often joke could be used to play them to your advantage.

In a presentation last week from Peter Arnold of Abey & Associates, the proposed redesign calls for better lighting, better drainage and added accessibility throughout the park.

To improve daytime lighting and reduce overall foliage on the courts, the proposal calls for removing seven oak trees near the courts that are between 20 and 40 years old.

While city officials and tennis advocates appear enthused about the newfound momentum, a major hurdle remains in funding the renovation. The Boyle Park Renovation campaign has raised $77,000 in private donations, and tennis advocates have also secured a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Tennis Association that was contingent upon the project being full funded.

City estimates for the projects have ranged from $400,00 to $650,000. Recreation Director Jenny Rogers has committed to seeking both Measure A and state grant funding for the project, and the city has agreed to pony up an as-yet-unspecified amount.

In June 2012, City Manager Jim McCann unveiled a list of capital improvement projects that the city plans to fund over the next few years by allocating $667,000 in 2012-2013 and $600,000 in 2013-2014 from the city’s General Fund, as opposed to the host of annual capital projects, such as road resurfacing, which are paid for by the city’s municipal services tax and other taxes and fees.

The city’s new allocation serves as a marked improvement over 2011-2012, when the General Fund paid for approximately $200,000 in relatively minor improvements to storm drains, sidewalk access ramps and the Community Center.

To donate to the Boyle Park Renovation campaign, click here.

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