Kevin Frazier has played tennis on the courts on La Cañada's Cornishon Avenue since he was 13 years old, but he has never seen them in such a bad state as they are today.
Lined with long cracks, out of which tufts of weeds have sprung forth, their poor condition is beginning to interfere with playing, he says.
"It's a liability — somebody's going to fall and hurt themselves," Frazier, 59, said Tuesday. "And it's been going on for years and years."
The problem is on the radar of city and La Cañada Unified School District officials, who've operated the courts through a joint use agreement since they were last resurfaced in 2001. Courts typically function well for about 10 years, unless they're heavily used.
Basic resurfacing is estimated to cost about $120,000, while inquiries into a total rebuild have returned a $400,000 estimate. But without an identified funding source, the work can't begin.
In a March 22 meeting of the Joint Use Committee, which considers properties and holdings shared by the city and school district, city staffer Arabo Parseghian updated committee members on the worsening state of the courts, which have been pegged as needing repair since 2008.
On one court, a wooden bench is broken in half with splinters exposed. With recent rains, existing gaps and cracks have widened enough to present a trip-and-fall hazard to users.
"The cracks are getting substantially bigger, and this is a major risk," Parseghian said. "If the project doesn't move forward, we're potentially looking at closing the courts in 2019."
To avoid a summer 2019 closure and give adequate time for the bidding process and actual resurfacing work, officials would need to find funding by next January. Parseghian said the city has applied for grants in the past but hasn't been successful.
Unlike other jointly operated fields — which play host to multiple school teams and extracurricular groups like the L.A. Premier Football Club and recreational sports leagues throughout the year — the Cornishon tennis courts are used more sparsely by fewer organizations.
La Cañada High School tennis teams are permitted to use the facilities about 600 hours a year, while the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge logs about 98 hours annually. Many users, like Frazier, are private citizens or coaches who may not be organized through a club.
"There is a lot of public use, but we can't really identify who [among] the public is using it," said school board member Dan Jeffries, who sits on the Joint Use Committee.
One of those private citizens is Jim Settles, a La Cañada resident and avid tennis player and member of the Flint Canyon Tennis Club. Employed at a company that designs, fabricates and installs safety netting, outdoor padding and windscreens, he's done some consulting work for the city and LCUSD.
Settles said residents' urging action be taken hasn't netted much.
"I've talked about it a couple of times at Joint Use, and others have. We've met with the Parks and Rec Commission — it just always seems to die," he said. "The city and the school both just don't have line items in their budgets for anything for the tennis courts."
Both Settles and Frazier believe private users might be willing to consider paying a fee for the maintenance and upkeep of the courts they use year-round. Meanwhile, officials are looking at creative solutions like restriping courts for use by other sports in exchange for donations.
"We're going to have to figure out a way to make it happen because the courts are not going to last much longer," Jeffries said.