Wendy and Eric Crowe were excited to learn Monday night that the city of Mill Valley plans to give the nearly 80-year-old public tennis courts at some .
They were less than thrilled, however, at how long it might take before the local tennis community sees any upgrades, as city officials first plan to develop a Boyle Park master plan and conduct a feasibility study of the tennis court renovations.
“I would hate to think that there is going to be a long process to figure out what needs to be done at Boyle Park,” Wendy Crowe said. “We already know that the tennis courts need work.”
“That is truly unfortunate,” added Eric Crowe. Both Wendy and Eric Crowe are members of the Boyle Park Renovation campaign, which has been raising money for nearly four years to help the city pay for renovations of the aging city-owned courts.
“You have a tremendous public relations problem with the people who thought they were going to have a section of a court rebuilt with the money they put in,” Crowe told the council after hearing the city’s plan to allocate $50,000 to create a Boyle Park master plan to replace its 55-year-old predecessor, as well as an additional $77,000 for a feasibility study and preliminary design of the tennis court renovations.
The tennis courts were the dominant issue during the Mill Valley’s City Council’s meeting Monday, the second of its three scheduled budget discussions. 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.
“In this go-round, we’ve desperately tried to free up funds to do projects that people want but for which we haven’t been able to find money in the past,” said Eric Erickson, the city’s finance director.
The new projects (see full list below and in attached staff report) include a host of improvements, from police and fire station upgrades, community center repairs, paving public parking lots and repairing sidewalks. But while most of the projects garnered little discussion Monday night, the plan for the tennis courts revealed years of underlying frustration between City Hall and the local tennis community, particularly those who want to maintain a public tennis option for those who aren’t members of the and the in Strawberry.
The reason centers on the fundraising campaign, which the Crowes said has lost steam in recent years as donors have grown concerned that the city hasn’t allocated money for the courts because of a less-than-stellar budget picture due to a dip in property tax revenue, the city’s primary source of money.
“Frankly, from the perspective of the tennis community, we’re losing that momentum and we’re losing buy-in and people doubt that the money will be spent on the tennis courts,” said Eric Crowe, who noted that many local residents already had done pro-bono design and engineering studies for the proposed renovations.
Wendy Crowe said the tennis community had grown frustrated and that the city’s inaction had jeopardized a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Tennis Association that was contingent upon the project being full funded. Estimates for the total renovation have varied, from the renovation campaign’s $350,000 to the city’s early estimate of $650,000.
She urged the city not to use the $77,000 in donations for anything but actual physical renovation and not studies.
“There would be an uproar if the (tennis community) thought the city of Mill Valley would take that money and make plans,” she said.
The council didn’t make any final decisions about the tennis courts or any of the recommended capital improvement projects Monday night and plans to finalize the list at a June 26 meeting.
Councilmembers did express a general concern about the number of studies on the list, including a $20,000 feasibility study of installing a public bathroom downtown and a $20,000 design study of renovating the Golf Course clubhouse.
“We tend to do a lot of expensive studies,” Councilman Ken Wachtel said. “If I were trying to build an outhouse, I would call someone who builds outhouses and ask them, ‘Where should we put it?’”
The 411: The Mill Valley City Council is expected to approve a two-year budget for 2012-2014 and a five-year capital improvement program at a special meeting on June 26 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.
The full list of the proposed list of capital improvement projects:
- Police Station lobby: Installation of ballistic glass, new lock systems and other improvements ($62,497).
- Fire truck access improvements on Tamalpais Ave. and other locations ($80,000).
- Landslide prevention and repair ($200,000).
- Storm drain repair ($110,000).
- Guardrail installation and repair ($42,000).
- Flood relief study through the Mill Valley-specific Stetson Engineer’s study and the Southern Marin Watershed Study ($88,000).
- Pruning of Eucalyptus trees on city property ($30,000).
Infrastructure and facility upgrades
- Paving city public parking lots ($50,000).
- City-wide sidewalk repair ($40,000).
- Sidewalk accessibility ramps ($40,000).
- Accessibility improvements ($55,000, in addition to $103,000 allocated to preparation of a city-wide ADA transition plan).
- Painting of City Hall lobby and Fire Station apparatus bay, meeting rooms and garage floor repairs ($42,000).
- Community Center carpet replacement, floor refinishing, kitchen repairs and more ($129,000).
- Feasibility study on the installation of a public bathroom downtown ($20,000).
- Steps, Lanes and Paths improvements and Gardner Steps renovation design ($40,000).
- Boyle Park master plan ($50,000).
- Boyle Park tennis court renovation feasibility study and preliminary design ($77,000). Early estimate for renovations vary from $300,000 to $650,000.
- Aquatic Center improvements like pool plaster refinishing, roof repair, wall repair, waterslide repair ($133,000).
- Golf Course clubhouse renovation design study ($20,000).