The city will fund the lion’s share of the cost of improving and maintaining the six tennis courts on Park Avenue opposite Laguna Beach High School.
Council members Tuesday approved the terms of five new joint-use agreements that spell out the city’s financial commitment to the Laguna Beach Unified School District for the use of its facilities, including $435,000 of the $620,000 cost to renovate the tennis courts.
“I remember how shocked the council was when the district informed us of the cost of the tennis courts,” said Councilwoman Toni Iseman. “Our jaws dropped.”
Plans include lighting on Courts 5 and 6, which were previously unlighted.
Iseman and Councilman Steven Dicterow wanted in writing that a public hearing would be held before the lights are installed.
The district has committed to holding a public hearing, and the city has the leverage to make it happen, City Manager John Pietig said.
The courts will be wired, but the poles won’t be installed unless the money from the city is available, Pietig said.
Funding for a shade structure is also dependent on costs.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014.
The school board voted at the Aug. 27 meeting to allow staff to accept bids for the design and construction of post-tension slabs on five of the six courts. One court already had the post-tension technology that embeds steel cables in concrete to prevent cracking.
Other provisions in the agreements include a 70% financial contribution by the city to the operation, maintenance and repair of the community swimming pool.
“But the district doesn’t make any effort to provide 70% of the parking available to the public at the pool,” resident John Keith said.
The city covers the cost of the pool manager and all lifeguards. The district pays for maintenance of the pool building, which includes restrooms and lockers.
A provision in the gymnasium and fields agreement will phase in a 10% surcharge on city recreational programs held in district gymnasiums or on its fields, which historically were free.
The joint use of the Artists Theatre was not included in the agreements. The city asked for an agreement, but the district declined, according to Pietig.
“So we are just giving them a pass,” Iseman said. “The city helped refurbish it and we thought we would get more use. It is a huge issue.”
The city contributed $300,000 toward the renovation, which was also paid for through private donations.
Community groups, as well as Arts Commission members, have bitterly complained about scheduling that severely limits their use of the theater, but Pietig said complaints seem to have abated.
“No, people have just given up,” Iseman said.
The five joint-use agreements are good for five years. Negotiations took more than a year to complete. The city was represented by Mayor Kelly Boyd, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson, school board members Ketta Brown and Theresa O’Hare, district Superintendent Shirene Smith and Pietig, as well as legal counsel for both groups.
Boyd and Councilman Steve Dicterow were appointed to serve on the annual committee that will meet to discuss scheduling, repairs, maintenance and capital improvement issues.