to Master Plan
ON THE PROPOSED TENNIS COURTS IN WOODS PARK
This summer and fall, 4 meetings were held with neighbors
on the new Master Plan for Woods Park. Lincoln Parks &
Rec. Department conducted these meetings. While they never
asked for a vote on the plan it is estimated that nearly everyone
from the neighborhood (over 80% of those in attendance) strongly
objected to keeping the 3 proposed tennis courts in the new
Plan. In early November in preparing for a Woods Park Neighborhood
Assn. meeting on the new Master Plan, 550 leaflets were distributed
to neighbors on the east, south and west of Woods Park. During
this distribution a number of neighbors were asked what they
felt about the additional tennis courts for Woods Park. 95%
were very much against the idea. Only one neighbor was in
favor of the courts - their son, now grown, had used the tennis
facilities at Woods quite a bit. When asked how he felt about
the Wesleyan Baseball Field situation, he indicated he was
adamantly against that! Through the years neighbors have overwhelmingly
opposed the development of additional athletic facilities
in Woods Park.
Because the Parks & Recreation Department has recommended
the new Master Plan go forward with the 3 proposed courts
included, this background information package has been developed.
It covers the following topics:
click on links below 1-6
- The case for the "need" (or lack
thereof) for additional tennis courts at Woods Park.
- Background on the nature and limits on Community
Parks imposed by the Lincoln- Lancaster Comprehensive Plan.
- The layout of Woods Park's facilities and
the negative results if the proposed courts are
- The character of the immediate neighborhood
surrounding Woods Park.
- The history and manner of the development
of the Athletic Facilities in Woods Park.
- Our proposal for the use of this open space
in the south part of the park.
REASONS THE PROPOSED 3 TENNIS COURTS SHOULD BE DELETED
FROM THE NEW WOODS PARK MASTER PLAN
Back to TOP
1. The Need (or Lack of Need) for Tennis in Lincoln
J.J. Yost (Mgr. of Planning & Construction, Parks &
Rec. Department) stated with Lynn Johnson (Director of Parks
& Rec. Department) present during the 4 planning meetings
held this past summer and also in a WPNA meeting (Woods Park
Neighborhood Association) held about 2 years ago, that the
demand for public tennis has decreased since the 1990's when
the last Woods Park Master Plan was developed. This is a trend
over the past 13 years.
Further proof of this is visible to neighbors who see the
park all the time. They report that the 3 most recently built
courts (located just west of the tennis bubbles) go unused
a vast majority of the outdoor tennis season.
Tennis Assn. figures show that current summer court usage
is at 46% of capacity.
The only "need" for more courts is in order to
host tournaments - IN ONE LOCATION! With other premium surface
courts available at some of the local high schools and also
at UNL, we feel that it would be entirely possible to hold
these tournaments in several locations throughout the city,
just as is done for basketball tournaments. This option should
be explored and pursued. Since the Lincoln Public Schools
and UNL are currently using facilities in Woods Park for practices
and competitions, they should show a willingness to cooperate
and make their courts available for this tournament "need".
Back to TOP
2. Woods Park is only a Community Park.
Community Parks (as defined by the Lincoln-Lancaster Comprehensive
Plan, updated 2002, and passed by the City Council) are medium
size parks from 30-50 acres. They are to serve around 1,000
residents for each 1 ½ acres of parkland - approximately
a 2 mile radius in the urban area.
Woods Park is now about 46 acres, after the recent sale of
some land to the Health Department.
Lincoln's population is about 225,000.
According to the definition of a Community Park, Woods is
therefore intended to serve about 30,700 residents - or about
14% of Lincoln's population.
The Comprehensive Plan defines Regional Parks (Pioneers,
Mahoney, etc.) as being Lincoln's larger parks, they are to
serve residents throughout the city as well as people outside
Community Parks are only to serve a certain number of Lincoln's
residents - about the number that would live within a 2 mile
radius of the park! They are not intended to serve people
outside the city limits of Lincoln.
TENNIS IN A COMMUNITY PARK
Judging by the number of tennis facilities in the Community
Parks of Lincoln, you can tell how much each park is serving
the needs in Lincoln for this sport. The Community Parks which
contain tennis courts: Ballard, Belmont, Cooper, Dinsmore,
Henry, Peter Pan, Peterson, Tierra, Tyrrell, Uni Place and
UPCO each have 2 tennis courts with concrete pads. Roberts
has 2 "Laykold" surface courts that are quite pitted.
Irvingdale has 3 concrete tennis courts. Woods contains 15
tennis courts and the total, if the proposed courts are built,
would bring that to 18!
The Tennis Assn. is not interested in the concrete pad courts
because competitive tennis players don't want to play on them.
They want the premium "Laykold" surface. Although
Roberts Park has 2 courts with this surface, they are in poor
condition and not suited for competitive tournament play.
Therefore Woods contains 100% of the usable "Laykold"
courts in the city.
Parks & Rec. is trying to serve 38% of the entire need
for tennis in Lincoln's community Parks - at Woods Park alone
-- or worse yet -- 100% of the need for competition tennis!
Furthermore, Tennis Assn. figures show that for the summer
outdoor tournaments held at Woods Park nearly 24% of the participants
are not even Lincoln Residents. 725 participants: 554 from
Lincoln, 171 from outside Lincoln or outside Nebraska. It
seems obvious that all of this far exceeds the limits the
Comprehensive Plan has outlined for Community Parks.
SIZE & LIMITS OF COMMUNITY & REGIONAL PARKS COMPARED
Lincoln's Community Parks in acres: 1 to 144
Woods at 46 acres is the 5th largest
Lincoln's Regional Parks in acres: 77 to 728
Woods at 46 acres is about ½ the size of Mahoney at
Mahoney Park is Lincoln's smallest Regional Park (77 acres)
and is intended to serve all the resident of Lincoln. It contains
a golf course and 4 ball fields clustered together. The ball
fields are blocks from any residential neighbors. They are
buffered by the distance this larger park contains as well
as the golf course. The golf course is the type of athletic
facility that is similar to what most people imagine when
they think of the nature of a park: nature, natural beauty,
open space, a relief from urbanization, peace & quiet.
Woods Park on the other hand is a Community Park at 46 acres.
All of its athletic facilities are just across the street
from residential neighbors and highly visible. This is so
because all these facilities are crowded into the southern
35% of the park (this will be discussed later) and its overall
size doesn't leave enough room to buffer these facilities.
There are many people who buy or build expensive houses next
to golf courses, because of the attributes described earlier,
in addition to the love of the sport. On the other hand, few
if any, people invest large sums of money in order to live
next to a tennis complex (even tennis lovers). If they are
well off and love tennis, they usually construct a tennis
court on their own property.
It would be poor planning (similar to poor city zoning) to
have a single, medium sized Community Park treated like a
larger Regional Park in order to satisfy too much of a city's
need for a sport like tennis. In many respects the limits
placed on Community Parks and other parks are due to their
size. One community-size park can contain only so much and
continue to retain the character of a park - as well as be
able to buffer the park's facilities from the neighbors across
Keep in mind that in the early 1990's the Tennis Assn. requested
that the number of courts in Woods Park be doubled from 12
to 24. They wanted to host regional tournaments for a number
of surrounding states. If they want something they will ask!
(Even if it exceeds the limits of a Community Park.) And,
of course, a demand for more of Woods Park space may come
from the Health Department when Lincoln becomes larger in
the future. WHEN WILL THIS STOP???
What about 20 to 40 years in the future?
Assume the proposed courts are built and later a need is declared
again because by then:
A. Lincoln will be larger - the communities need for
tennis will also be larger.
B. There will be more High Schools and LPS will have
more teams it wants to have compete
with each other.
Will Parks & Rec. and the City Council feel even more
courts must be added TO WOODS PARK?!!! (Since it will be cheaper
to add them here?)
Lincoln's growth will take place at the edge of the city,
with most of it south and east. Do the people who want all
the tennis concentrated in Woods Park intend to have everyone
drive from these distant points to the middle of town for
their tennis? Is that good planning?
Back to TOP
3. The way Woods Park is laid out effects the way the
park can be used as well as its environmental impact on the
immediate residential neighborhood.
All the Athletic Facilities and the huge parking lots that
serve them are all located in the southern 35% of the park
- right in the heart of an Historic residential neighborhood.
These facilities are so extensive and dense that they actually
aren't a "park" at all. They are only a Sports Complex.
In Nov. 2004, Lynn Johnson stated to the WPNA meeting that
if the park were being planned today it wouldn't be laid out
in this fashion (so it is not the best design).
Not only are these athletic facilities extensive, they are
tall and imposing and easily seen at a great distance (the
baseball backstop, the diving platform, the night lights,
the tennis bubbles).
As a result of the concentration of the athletic facilities
in the park's southern edge, there is an extremely small amount
of open/green space. The view to the immediate neighbors is
nothing but athletic facilities and parking lots which go
nearly to the sidewalks - for almost 6 city blocks (4 blocks
on the south and 2 blocks on the southeast).
The proposed 3 courts would remove 45% of the entire open/green
space in the south part of the park next to the residential
As for the open space in front of the bathhouse, the courts
would remove 65% of it and as a result, the front of the bathhouse
would be obscured, so children who want to swim would have
to walk between tennis courts to get to the bathhouse. They
would no longer be able to wait at the bathhouse for their
parents after swimming, because they would not be able to
see the approach of their parents car through the tennis courts.
In addition to the removal of open/green space in the
south there are other consequences.
A. The proposed courts would be even closer to the
homes, since they would be 8 feet farther south than the fence
at the edge of the swimming pool. This would bring their lights,
activity and noise nearer to these homes. And, of course,
more courts, means more traffic and parking in front of these
houses which already endure a lot from swimming, and tennis
competitions. This also would bring more trash into the neighborhood.
B. Smaller green space left after constructing these
proposed courts would seriously limit the ability of Parks
& Rec. to buffer the houses from these facilities since
they would now have much less space with which to work. Why
continue working and developing a park plan already recognized
Back to TOP
4. The Character of the Immediate Neighborhood
Woods Park is bordered immediately on the south by the Woods
Park Historic Bungalow District. On the west, the park is
next to the East Lincoln/Elm Park Historic District. These
designations were created in 1991 to preserve the character
of the neighborhood that was built in the 1920's.
There are guidelines and regulations in place to limit alterations
in the appearance of the neighborhood and its houses and property.
Back to TOP
5. The Development of Woods Park over the years
When a park's design and character is established before
the surrounding neighborhood is built it is one thing. But
for a park to be built 40 years after the character of the
neighborhood is well in place is quite another.
The situation with Woods Park is even a little different.
It's development was gradual and began with the construction
of its first facility - the swimming pool in 1965. Then 6
tennis courts and the baseball field were added. Then came
some more tennis courts. In 1985 the first tennis bubble was
built, the clubhouse in 1986 and in 1992 the 2nd bubble was
added. By now there were 12 tennis courts in place. But the
Tennis Assn. now wanted 24 courts.
By 1992 the transformation of Woods Park had taken place.
Before 1985 it was merely a Community Park with athletic facilities
more developed than the other Community Parks in Lincoln.
It contained a baseball field, a swimming pool for the neighborhood's
use as well as competitions from around the state and outside
the state and about 9 tennis courts.
By 1992 the number of tennis courts had grown to 15 and
there were 2 tennis bubbles. The southern section of Woods
Park had grown into a Sports Complex. In 2003 Kiwanis Field
was upgraded and leased to Nebraska Wesleyan for their use.
In 2005 the Parks and Rec. Dept has approved retaining the
additional three tennis courts (for a grand total of 18) in
the new Master Plan for Woods Park.
It is rather ironic that surrounding Woods Park, property
owners (who are living in Historic Districts created in 1991)
are strongly encouraged by the city to preserve the appearance
and character of their original neighborhood. And across the
street in their park, the city allows an Athletic Complex
to gradually be built to such an extent that now the Parks
& Recreation Department is recommending removing the only
open/green space ----in order to build even more tennis courts!
This is contradictory!
Forty years ago nobody ever asked the surrounding neighborhood
if they wanted a Sports Complex in their midst. If the question
were ever asked, we believe the answer would have been a resounding
NO! Today the answer would be the same.Back
6. Proposal by Woods Park Neighbors
For this small amount of open/green space in the south of
Woods Park, we propose that it be beautified as has been done
with a number of mini parks in the city. Picnic tables and
seating could also be added. Then the immediate neighbors
would have some relief from the dense & imposing athletic
facilities that are already in place. This "mini-park"
would also act as a buffer to these existing athletic facilities.
What will happen when the city is larger and there is need
and a request for additional tennis courts? When will this
stop? Only when it is obvious to everyone in the city? Only
when there is no more space left in Woods Park? Let's stop
this unrestrained development now!
Back to TOP