The first plans to transform dilapidated tennis courts on the island’s south end were unveiled Monday at a Hilton Head Island open house.
The four public tennis courts, commonly referred to as the Cordillo Tennis Courts, have been a point of contention because they have not been maintained by the town and are spider-webbed with cracks and paint stains.
James Ackerman, board president of the Cordillo Courts condominium complex, which is bisected by the courts, has said the town-owned land is routinely the site of drug deals, illegal parking and littering.
Ackerman approached the town in October 2017 asking it to either fix up the courts or sell the 1.47-acre property to the complex, which considered turning them into green space. In December 2017, Town Council voted unanimously not to sell the property.
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Town staff recommended the courts be redeveloped to include youth tennis courts and pickleball, and Town Council agreed.
The conceptual plans unveiled Monday show that one of the four tennis courts will be replaced by four youth tennis courts, which double as pickleball courts. More parking and a community building will also be added.
A proposed 24-foot by 60-foot community building will have an office, restrooms and meeting space the community can use, according to Chris Darnell, urban designer for the town.
The goal of Monday’s open house was to give the public a chance to respond to the plans. More than a dozen people filled out comment sheets, Darnell said. About 25 people attended Monday’s meeting.
Questions were raised about rules surrounding the community building, why the town chose to add a community building rather than a playground, whether the courts would be lit at night, and whether a bike path would be added, among other things.
Sherri Connolly, a Cordillo Courts property owner, expressed concern about the addition of a community building.
“The community center has to be open to the whole island, and there’s not enough space to fit everybody who wants to come to the community center,” Connolly said. “I don’t want it to be in there period because there’s not enough room.”
Narendra Sharma, founder of Neighborhood Outreach Connection, said he is pleased with the initial plans.
Neighborhood Outreach Connection is a nonprofit aimed at fighting poverty that operates one location out of Cordillo Courts. In December, children who attend the after school program asked Town Council to save their only play area.
“The project makes a lot of sense,” Sharma said. “The community building is an integral component of the project that can be used by the community at large. ... It benefits the entire community.”
Town staff will consider the comments and adjust the plans if needed, Darnell said. That process should be completed this spring. An architect will then be selected and construction started. If all goes as planned, the courts will reopen in November 2019, according to Darnell.
Scott Liggett, the town’s director of public projects and facilities and chief engineer, said Tuesday there is about $300,000 available this fiscal year to start the project. The projected cost of redeveloping the courts, however, is between $650,000 and $750,000.
Liggett said he intends to recommend to the town manager that the project receive additional funding next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Despite the town moving forward with plans to redevelop the courts, the Sea Cabin Racquet Club II Horizontal Property Regime, which oversees Cordillo Courts, is suing the town for misusing the tennis courts, which were purchased from Dennis Van Der Meer in 2002. The suit was filed Feb. 28 in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas.