Saline City Council balked at a recommendation to pave over the Peoples Park tennis courts with a parking lot and to construct a new tennis court south of the existing basketball court.
The recommendation came from the city’s Park’s Commission, which has spent months trying to find a way to create parking while maintain green space in the neighborhood park located off South Monroe Street.
For years, parents of little leaguers used the Karpinski property for parking. That practice continued when the city purchased the property. Last year the city sold the property for development, pushing little league parking on to Monroe Street or into the private parking lot at Annie’s Day Care..
“We spitballed all kinds of options, keeping in mind funding, greenspace, safety and accessibility,” Scruggs said of the Parks Commission deliberations.
In October, the commission voted 5-1 on the option to put parking where the two tennis are.
Scruggs noted that the tennis courts are not in good condition.
“There’s a lot of cracking. To make them more usable, it would require a lot of money for renovation,” Scruggs said. “Using that space for a parking lot would require less expenditure, because there’s already a base.”
With the help of city superintendent Gary Roubal, they came up with plans for a 34-space parking lot, including two handicapped spaces.
Another part of the plan is to build one tennis court south of the basketball court.
“People do use the tennis courts at Peoples Park. We would build one additional court so we still have that amenity at the park. We feel like that’s important part of the park,” Scruggs said.
Councillor Heidi McLelland, council’s liason to the parks commission, said there was a lot of dialogue and compromise to reach this point. Mayor Brian Marl offered the city’s thanks for a thoughtful and thorough solution.
The project comes with a $30,000 price tag – a price that Councillor Dean Girbach didn’t believe. Girbach cited the $100,000 price tag for the proposed parking lot Salt Springs Park.
City Manager Todd Campbell said this project was cheaper because the parking lot would be constructed over an area that is already graded and ready.
DPW Director Jeff Fordice said the new parking lot would go right over top of the existing asphalt.
Girbach said he agreed with the concept.
Councillor Janet Dillon questioned the need for a parking lot for the park.
“My biggest concern is the use of the park and ballfield. It’s a huge parking lot for a ballfield used for about five weeks. We could be allocating that money in other directions,” Dillon said.
Scruggs said the parking lot is for all users and not only little league parents.
Dillon also noted that creating a new tennis court would cost some green space.
“We will lose some, but not the amount we would have (with other options). Park commissioners took green space to heart when trying to come up with a solution,” Scruggs said.
Mayor ProTem Linda TerHaar asked if the $29,000 price tag includes the cost of constructing a new tennis court. Scruggs said it does not. There are currently no estimates for that portion of the project.
Councillor Girbach questioned a confusing table from Superintendent Roubal outlining two different sets of costs for the parking lot. City Manager Campbell said he had the same questions.
Mayor Marl said he was comfortable with proceeding with the motion, but noting the questions and concerns, asked for a motion to postpone action until the Nov. 13 meeting.
“I don’t think this is the perfect solution. But there are a number of moving parts. I think this is a pretty solid proposal,” Marl said.
Council voted 7-0 to postpone voting on the motion.