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Doug White

Doug White plays bocce on the team Il Pallino on Friday nights in the St. Helena Bocce League at Crane Park.

Next year, the six tennis courts at Crane Park will be resurfaced and there will be new LED lighting throughout Crane Park. On Tuesday, the St. Helena City Council voted unanimously to spend not more than $200,000 for the Capital Improvement Projects at Crane Park.

Recreation Director Andre Pichly said the project is expected to include the installation of a slip-sheet system for the four center courts, which have visible cracks in the playing surface, posing a safety risk for the tennis players. Pichly described the slip-sheet system as 21 layers of fabric, which is two inches thick, put on top of the tennis courts. New asphalt is then put on top of the fabric. The two single courts are in good shape and just need a new asphalt coating, he added. Additional work includes upgrading tennis court amenities, such as lowering the side fencing for the courts, installing new chain-link fencing material and upgrading net systems as needed.

Pichly’s staff report also recommends installing new LED lights on the tennis courts, bocce courts, skate park and sand volleyball court. These upgrades would use the existing lighting infrastructure and replace the metal halide fixtures. Additionally, the control system would be replaced. The staff report states the LED lights are expected to last 130,000 hours or almost 15 years, compared to the 15,000-hour lifespan of metal halide lights.

New, stand-alone solar powered path lighting also will be added, to aid park users leaving Crane Park after the lights have been turned off.

Pichly said the work could begin as early as next spring, depending on the weather and retrofitting the lights will be done before the courts are resurfaced. The estimated project time is six weeks.

Following Pichly’s reading of the staff report, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Matt Demchuk addressed the council, adding it has taken three years to get this project funded. “I strongly urge you to support this project,” he said. Part of the issue is that the commission created a list of Capital Improvement Projects and ranked them and yet the City Council did not discuss, nor fund, the projects.

City Manager Mark Prestwich told Demchuk it was a communication problem and Koberstein said she supports what the commission is doing, adding they used a good public process – two community outreach meetings – to create their CIP list.

The money to pay for the Crane Park improvements will come from the city’s Park Impact Fee Fund, which has a balance of $745,700 and the Skate Park Lighting Fund, which has a balance of $1,180.

In other action:

On a split 3-2 vote, the St. Helena City Council approved an ordinance to adopt Mobile Home Park Rent Stabilization on Tuesday night. There was no public comment.

Voting for the second reading of the ordinance were Councilmembers Geoff Ellsworth, Paul Dohring and Mary Koberstein. Mayor Alan Galbraith said he opposed the ordinance in the past and he continues to oppose it. He and Vice Mayor Peter White cast the dissenting votes.

Prestwich brought to the council’s attention the city’s website, which now has a button for donations to help Camp Fire victims. During public comment, audience member Anne Card advocated a city-wide fundraising effort to pay for an RV or trailer for those who were left homeless by the fire. The council is expected to discuss that during its next meeting, set for Dec. 11.

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St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st