Committee opts to site Covenant Club between Rancho Santa Fe golf and tennis clubs

The Covenant Club design subcommittee voted on a design program for the proposed health club and pool facility, opting for a 12,200-square-foot facility between the Rancho Santa Fe Golf and Tennis Clubs.

The facility will include combined resort and lap pools and two new tennis courts, with construction phased so that there will always be 12 active courts at the club. Architect Kirk Mason will now further develop and refine the design plan for the club, aiming to present the plan at the subcommittee’s Nov. 2 meeting (3 p.m. at the RSF Golf Club). The design group also aims to present a plan to the RSF Association board possibly at its November or December meeting.

The vote on the club design was not unanimous, with RSF Golf Club liaisons Dottie Mulholland and Deb Gustafson issuing no votes. Mulholland said she could not endorse any of the plans, especially after hearing the results of recent tennis and golf club surveys.

The subcommittee had heard the results of the golf club survey as they were released that day. From a 50 percent survey response (441 respondents out of 887 surveys sent), 75 percent voted that they did not want a health club to be located on the golf and tennis campus.

The tennis club’s survey of 158 respondents showed that while the club was split on the concept of the Covenant Club, 61 percent of members voted against putting the facility on the golf and tennis club campus, and 80 percent of members voted against having a facility on top of the club’s current footprint.

“The members have spoken loudly … it really compromises this campus,” Mulholland said. “(The subcommittee) was never offered any other site alternatives … From the get-go, this subcommittee was solely focused on pushing (the Covenant Club) into a space that we know really has not worked for a large portion of people who are currently using it.”

Mulholland stressed that she is not anti-Covenant Club, and that she would love to see these facilities in the community; but she believes the committee is backing a plan that does not respect the history of the Covenant or the members of the golf and tennis clubs.

Chair Jerry Yahr pointed to the results of the November 2014 Association vote, in which 762 people voted in favor of studying the site as a location for a fitness facility, which is what they have been tasked to do.

“There will always be differing opinions and we respect that, and ultimately the community will get a chance to vote when the whole analysis is done,” Yahr said. “This committee is trying to do its best job to deliver the best site plan for this location.”

At the Oct. 13 meeting, the design committee first took a vote on the location of the facility, whether it was autonomous from the golf and tennis clubs or located between the two sites.

Seven favored the location between the clubs, two favored a separate site and two subcommittee members did not vote.

The committee also reviewed the results of a parking study, conducted over six weeks in July and August, which included the high-demand weekend of the Clambake Tournament.

“Parking is a big challenge for us, even now,” said resident and golf club member Vearl Smith, who shared concerns about what would happen if the golf club membership were to grow. “I’m here a lot more than I should be, and I find it very difficult during the day to find a parking space.”

According to the study, during the highest demand time 164 of the 200 parking stalls were filled, or 82 percent of the lot.

On non-tournament days, the average peak demand was 123 spaces filled. At the peak day time, 88 to 192 stalls were filled; and at the non-peak daytime, 78 to 124 stalls were filled.

“Even at what we’ve found to be the peak, we’ve never hit 200 stalls filled,” Yahr said.

Based on the study by the KOA parking consultant, an additional 85 spaces will be needed to serve all three clubs. A minimum of 285 spaces would be required, but in the chosen program, 300 spaces is the target.

In selecting the design program, the subcommittee had looked at a range of options over the past few months, including a 16,400-square-foot facility that would require six new tennis courts, but all 12 would be maintained to avoid disruption.

The ultimate decision was a hybrid of two different options — featuring the slightly reduced footprint of 12,200 square feet, combined pools that still maintained a separate lap pool area for adults (a minimum of four lanes) and a resort pool and an adequate buffer to alleviate noise concerns between the pool and neighboring tennis court.

As Yahr noted, the community will have ample opportunities to discuss the financing and other input at future meetings before the decision to build the club goes out to a community-wide vote in 2016.

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