- By Arielle Kass The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A proposal by Roswell officials to build a 60-acre tennis center in Big Creek Park has quickly drawn opposition from residents who say the city was secretive in its plans to woo the $50 million facility.
Plans for the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center were announced Thursday, and Roswell’s city council will vote Monday on a memorandum of understanding that would set the terms for the agreement between developers and the city. But residents say they are disappointed by how quickly the process is moving, and they want more opportunities to weigh in.
“The way it was handled was horrible,” said Stephanie Sears, president of the Barrington Farms Homeowners’ Association.
Sears’ neighborhood connects directly to the park, where mountain bikers have about six miles of trails and Cub Scout packs go for nature walks. The tennis center would be built on about a third of the park’s 168 acres and would include more than 135 tennis courts, including 80 clay courts and an indoor facility.
The proposal, Sears said, “came out of nowhere.
“…We all really feel bamboozled.”
Matt Harrell, president of the Spring Ridge Homeowners’ Association, said he was disappointed that no community conversations had been scheduled. And Brad Wender, president of the Roswell Alpharetta Mountain Bike Organization, said he worries Old Alabama Road, where the park is situated, can’t handle the additional traffic the tennis center would bring.
More than 7,500 people had signed a petition, as of Friday afternoon, calling for the city to reject the tennis plan.
“A lot of people like those woods,” said Wender, who estimated about 10,000 riders per month use the trails. If the proposal goes through, he said, about half the trails would be destroyed. “We just keep paving stuff,” he said.
Julie Brechbill, a Roswell spokesperson, said the park where the tennis center would be built had long been part of a master plan that included an arts center, an aquatic center and other construction. The city never intended to keep it wooded forever, she said.
Brechbill said she had received more than 100 emails about the project, most of them in opposition. But some residents were in favor of the project. One, Donna Neidorf, said in an email that she was “thrilled” by the news.
“I totally support this being built and will use this facility constantly!” she wrote, with nine additional exclamation points.
Brechbill said the project was still in the beginning stages.
Residents said they expect their neighbors to turn out to protest the project on Monday. Wender said he’ll be requesting a 30-day period before anything is passed.
“This is all happening way too fast,” he said. “If the city council is trying to ram this through, they may not give a rat’s behind.”