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Roswell mayor says no tennis center will be built in Big Creek Park

Roswell Mayor Lori Henry announced Friday afternoon that a controversial tennis center that drew the wrath of residents would not be built in a city park.

“Despite the sincere efforts of myself and council to do our best to keep our residents informed and involved, it is clear we have not lived up to this goal in our handling of the proposed tennis center at Big Creek Park,” Henry wrote in a statement posted on the city’s Facebook page. “For that, we apologize. We want to take this opportunity to do better.”

The city will schedule public input meetings to find a location for the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickle Ball and Fitness Center, she wrote, and “Big Creek Park will not be considered.”

Lori Henry, mayor of Roswell. HANDOUT PHOTO (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Vernon Krause, the owner of four metro Atlanta automotive dealerships, planned to donate $50 million to the city to build the tennis center as a way to honor his daughter, Angela, who died of a rare form of cancer in 2015. Residents appreciated Krause’s generosity, they said, but were opposed to a plan to replace 60 acres of hiking and mountain biking trails with clay tennis courts. More than 25,000 people signed a petition opposing the project and hundreds came to a Roswell council meeting Monday to express their displeasure. Council members were supposed to vote on an agreement Monday, but Henry on Sunday said the vote would not be held.

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Henry said in Friday’s statement that she and council members thought the tennis center would be a “rare and exciting opportunity” for the city, and would spur economic development.

But she said the city should have engaged residents in the process.

“We thought it would be a good fit, but we should have asked our residents and taxpayers if this was something they wanted in Big Creek Park,” Henry wrote. “It would have been an opportunity to present the information, receive your input and answer questions. We were so excited about the project that we assumed our residents would share that enthusiasm.”

The Krause family still thinks Roswell is an “excellent location” for the center, Henry said, and the city will continue to move forward with a proposal, with more public involvement.

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