By Devin Rose
The response from neighbors of the River Forest Tennis Club last month has for now dissuaded its staff from going forward with a plan to install lights on three of its courts.
But the club's president and vice president said they'd still like to move forward with the project if there's a way everyone can be satisfied, and only after they work to address the concerns raised by neighbors at the Dec. 19 meeting.
The proposal called for 12 26-foot poles with one or two fixtures each to be installed on three of the club's courts this spring. Light poles would be installed on the other three courts at a later date. Club President Dan Arends said the lights would allow the club to extend its season dates and hours and allow working residents to attend the club at night.
But neighbors of the club in the 600 block of Lathrop Avenue said they've experienced litter, noise and light pollution and unruly behavior from club members over the years. A leaflet distributed by Lathrop Avenue resident Ed Voci had the names of neighbors from 18 households including his own who opposed the lights.
The club had until Dec. 22 to submit an application for a planned development permit to keep the project moving forward, but they decided against it, said Arends. Club staff want to first see what they can do to fix some of the problems brought up by neighbors before they figure out how to proceed. Ed Sloan, vice president of the club, said he believes they're still intending to move forward with the project.
Sloan said they'll develop a plan over the next few months for how to upgrade facilities that will meet the needs of the neighbors. For example, Sloan said to cut down on light shining into their homes, the club could have landscaping done to add bushes or they could put mesh over the fence so that not as much light would reflect. He said they haven't corresponded with the neighbors since the meeting, but the two groups will meet again in several months to discuss any changes the club makes. The goal is to craft a proposal that will be as minimally problematic for neighbors as possible, Sloan said.
"Improvements that we make need to enhance the lives of the people who are participating in the club and those that live around the club," he said.
Voci called the club's decision not to submit the application "very gratifying," and said he'd listen to what the club leaders had to say. But until they withdraw the proposal completely, Voci said he and others would continue to not only "vigorously oppose it by all legal means necessary," but also hold the club accountable on every nuisance it creates.
"I urge RFTC to be good neighbors and stop now," he said.