Questioning The Wisdom Of Creating Eight New Tennis Courts

White Rock

I am not opposed to well-maintained tennis courts or additional courts, if needed, in the County. 

I do question the wisdom of creating eight new tennis courts. 

In their letter to the Los Alamos Reporter and the Los Alamos Daily Post of December 2, 2022, the Los Alamos Tennis Club directors and the Los Alamos Pickleball Club representative stated: 

“While the project has been addressed at various times since 2016, it has perpetually been on the back burner these past 8 years. In the meantime, maintenance on the courts was deferred while waiting for decisions on a new tennis complex, although resurfacing was supposed to be done every 5 years. With the exception of Urban Park (which had been resurfaced in the last 5 years and has started cracking again), most of the current neighborhood courts are in serious disrepair, with numerous cracks, craters and chips marring the surfaces.”

So, what is being proposed is placing an additional eight courts at Overlook that in five years will be in serious disrepair like the other 19 tennis courts in the County! 

Repurposing some of the 19 courts into pickleball courts does not mean that maintenance of those courts would no longer be required.

While I understand it is the NM Athletic Association’s requirement to have eight courts in one location for a District Tournament, how often will Los Alamos High School be hosting the tournament? Will it be annually?  Even then, will the goodwill engendered by hosting such an event justify the continuing expense associated with the construction and maintenance of eight new courts and the associated amenities: restrooms, bleachers, shade structures?

The US Tennis Association requires five courts to hold a team match. If we are trying to capture the tournament tourist dollar, aren’t the amenities that the Los Alamos townsite has to offer more extensive than what exists in White Rock?  If that is the case, then to satisfy the USTA only one additional court is needed at one of the two locations in Los Alamos that already have four courts. 

It is said that Overlook Park is the right place for the courts because:

 ” This past Spring there was a joint session of LAPS and County Council to discuss a ‘tournament quality’ facility to be located at either Mesa, North Mesa, Overlook or Urban, but the discussion quickly ruled out the Mesa and Urban courts due to historic objections by those neighborhoods.”

So historical (2008 and again in 2016 according to the letter) NIMBYism by the Mesa courts’ (behind Sullivan Field) and the Urban courts’ neighbors force LA Public Schools and LA County to back down from the most logical placement of the courts. 

Further justification for placement in White Rock and not in Los Alamos is that the weather is warmer in White Rock. Yes, but what data is being used and is the difference significant? White Rock’s anecdotal warmth may be true now, but as we continue to experience the effects of climate change, it is possible that it will become too hot to play comfortably, at least during afternoon and evening hours in White Rock.

I live adjacent to Overlook Park and know that the land was gifted to the County for recreational purposes, so the courts’ placement in Overlook Park is in keeping with the land transfer documentation, unlike the Transfer Station located within Overlook Park. The then County Recreation Director told me a decade or more ago that the Transfer Station was ‘temporary.’ The eight courts are proposed at the Transfer Station site on land that was cleared for material storage by the County long after the establishment of the ‘temporary’ Transfer Station footprint. If that area can no longer be used for storage, is it the County’s plan to further expand into the undeveloped open space area of Overlook Park to store their materials?  What are the County’s plans? 

As an aside, I do hope a new vendor to provide Porta-Potties in the Parks will be found as the absence of facilities certainly reduces enjoyable use of our parks.