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SLO tennis buffs lobby for lights at Sinsheimer Park courts

Tennis player Eddy Rodriguez, shown playing at Islay Park, hopes to get enough illuminated courts in San Luis Obispo to start a recreation league that plays after work.
Tennis player Eddy Rodriguez, shown playing at Islay Park, hopes to get enough illuminated courts in San Luis Obispo to start a recreation league that plays after work.

It was not quite lunchtime when Eddy Rodriguez and friend Rudy Garcia started rallying at the single tennis court in San Luis Obispo’s Islay Hill Park.

“We always show up at 11:30 to avoid the 12 o’clock rush,” said Rodriguez, a Morro Bay resident who works as a software development manager at MindBody in San Luis Obispo.

Since he’s at the office during the day, Rodriguez often tries to play tennis after work.

But over the past few years, he’s noticed that the courts have become more crowded — and complicating that fact, there are no lights at the city’s eight tennis courts.

Rodriguez and a few friends have been lobbying the city over the past year to install lights at Sinsheimer Park, which has six tennis courts.

Doing so, they say, will increase playing time for local tennis aficionados at a lesser cost than building new courts.

Their efforts are slowly paying off. The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the San Luis Obispo City Council include lights at the Sinsheimer courts as a goal in the upcoming 2015-17 fiscal year budget, but the suggestion didn’t make the council’s list.

Instead, city staff has added estimated costs for design and construction of lights to the list of proposed capital improvement projects in the budget, which the council will consider in more detail in June, Parks and Recreation Director Shelly Stanwyck said.

The lights are proposed for the third year of a five-year plan, Stanwyck said. That means the city staff could start the design and approval process in 2018, which would also include outreach to the neighborhood around Sinsheimer Park.

The estimated cost is currently set at $25,000 for design and $175,000 for construction of the lights, with the funds proposed to come from a developer fee that can be used for new park amenities.

At this time, the city is not considering building new courts, Stanwyck said.

“The thought was that we should do (the lights) first,” she said. “We give you more time and see if that’s meeting the community need before we say we need eight more courts.”

Still, there are about a dozen fewer tennis courts in San Luis Obispo today then there were about 30 years ago.

The only lighted tennis courts in San Luis Obispo are at Cal Poly — intended for student use — and at San Luis Obispo High, where the old lights there make nighttime play difficult, Rodriguez said.

In the meantime, there are lighted facilities in the city for soccer, baseball, softball, roller hockey, volleyball and horseshoes, according to a report Rodriguez and three friends, Vicente del Rio, Scott Cleere and Christopher Gilbert, submitted to the city last December. The new skate park at Santa Rosa Park also has lights.

“My friends and I have been rallying and trying to push for lights on those (Sinsheimer Park) courts because that would be the easiest and most cost-effective way of making more time,” Rodriguez said.

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