By Karen Billing
As an exploratory committee looks at the possibility of a potential pool and fitness center in Rancho Santa Fe, a variety of options are on the table as far as location this early on in the process. While no location has officially been proposed, some members of the RSF Tennis Club heard that one option would house the facility at their club so they visited the RSF Association board to express their objection.
“We don’t want the pool and fitness center squeezing us out of our location and taking our tennis courts,” said Barbara McClanahan, president of the RSF Tennis Club board.
Tennis club members, many of them dressed to hit the courts, were part of a standing-room only crowd during member input at the April 17 RSF Association meeting, and a petition was circulating gathering signatures against the possible recreation facilities being located at the club.
“I am very sensitive to the club’s success and the satisfaction,” said RSF Association Director Heather Slosar, who serves as the chair of the committee. “The committee has heard the Tennis Club’s objections and has found alternative locations for the pool and fitness center. We hear you and we’re listening to you. We’re trying to make everyone happy.”
Slosar said they are very early in the process, and asked that the community give them a little leeway which she understands is difficult as information trickles out in pieces, making it hard to distinguish between facts and rumors. The committee’s meetings are held in open sessions and anyone is welcome to attend — the most recent one was just held on Tuesday, April 22. Slosar said they will also post meeting minutes on the RSF Association website.
After the committee reviews locations and potential funding sources, Slosar said there will be focus groups and the entire community will be informed before a recommendation is brought to the board.
Last month, Slosar said that the committee had hoped to take the project to an advisory vote in May, but she now feels they will postpone the advisory vote until fall, to let “everything cool down” as there is a lot going on in the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant right now.
Dave Vandenberg, a resident who is heavily involved in the RSF Tennis Club, said he was very concerned when he heard a pool and fitness center would take over courts one and two at the club. Vandenberg runs a 501c3 nonprofit that donates money to R. Roger Rowe School for the middle school to have a tennis program at the club, growing from a dozen kids at the outset to 60 participants.
“The facility itself is one of the best in the country,” Vandenberg said. “There’s got to be a way for the committee to enhance the community without diminishing the Tennis Club.”
While many RSF Tennis Club members were very opposed to the facility at their club, others said not all Tennis Club members are against the idea.
Scott DeGoler, a 10-year Tennis Club member, said he didn’t want the board getting the impression the club was anti-community.
“There is plenty of space at the Tennis Club. Play is low and we could use the exposure,” DeGoler. “How about looking at a comprehensive plan that makes sense for the entire community.”
RSF resident Kathy Stumm said she felt DeGoler’s mention that play was down was inaccurate.
“Our club is busy every day of the week,” Stumm said. “We love our club, it’s just right for our community.”
Stumm said she was not opposed to the idea of the pool, but just not at their club.
One Tennis Club member, Suzy Schaefer, wanted to know how much money was being spent on this exploratory work.
In February, the board approved $40,000 for the consultant Club Mark to help facilitate an outreach program on the potential pool and fitness center and to generate support for the construction of the new recreational facilities.
RSF Association President Philip Wilkinson said they aim to keep the work under $20,000 and Slosar said the committee members are doing their best to do any of the work they can themselves.
“I’m very conscious of the cost to the community for something we might end up not wanting,” Slosar said.