Already a subscriber? Log in
- Unparalleled business coverage of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids corridor.
- Immediate access to subscriber-only content on our website.
- 26 issues per year delivered digitally, in print or both.
- Support locally owned and operated journalism.
Cedar Rapids Country Club leaders will have to wait for a city council decision on an amended proposal for a tennis facility – one that would now comprise an outdoor facility and a seasonal inflatable bubble. After more than an hour of input from country club members and neighboring property owners, the council voted July 11 to table the first reading of an ordinance that would modify the conditions and site plan for property at 515 27th St. Dr. SE, which the club purchased for the four-court tennis facility. Seven homes along Fairway Terrace SE have already been demolished, or are in the process of being demolished, to make room for the project. In June 2022, after a series of hotly-debated meetings, the council voted unanimously to approve a development proposal for the construction of an indoor tennis facility and reconfiguration of parking areas and the club’s driving range onto 185 acres along Fairway Terrace and Country Club Parkway SE, on property already owned by the club, and a separate proposal to vacate a portion of Fairway Terrace SE. However, the Cedar Rapids Country Club has since withdrawn the indoor facility plan, indicating it wasn’t financially feasible. The country club’s new proposal comprises four outdoor tennis courts. It would also include a temporary inflatable bubble structure to enclose the courts for up to six months per year, from October through April, to facilitate year-round play. Under the modified proposal, construction of an indoor facility would remain an option for the future. The Cedar Rapids Planning Commission voted 3-3 on the proposal in early June, recommending denial of the project. Several neighbors have said the new project would cover a larger area than the original plan, said they were concerned the inflatable structure wouldn’t conform to the neighborhood’s historic character, as well as taking issue with site configuration, noise and lighting for the proposal. Since the Planning Commission’s meeting, the country club has modified its plan, moving the tennis courts slightly east and adding a half aisle of parking between adjacent homes and the tennis courts to address concerns about noise and proximity to homeowners’ properties. A petition with 58 signatures opposing the project was submitted to the council, and at Tuesday’s council meetings, several area residents expressed continued concern with the plan. Paul Esker, who lives near the proposed courts, said he was particularly concerned about plans to add outdoor lighting for the courts, as well as a proposed access road that would run through the country club property on the east side of the courts. “They don't need to add lighting that they don't currently have,” Mr. Esker said. “It'd be like living 15 feet away from a football stadium … and I haven't heard an explanation for why this new access road is necessary. Frankly I don't think it is, and I think if the road is not there, it'll make this a lot more palatable to me.” Another neighbor, Justin Fortune, expressed concerns about neighborhood safety. “The placement of this parking lot feels dangerous to me, as a father and as a homeowner,” he said. “I feel uneasy about the proximity of a commercial-grade parking lot near my backyard. I ask you to put yourself in my shoes and ask yourself, what would you do for your family if you knew that a commercial-grade property and a parking lot was going to be this close to where your children play?” Before the council voted to table the proposal, council member Marty Hoeger, who is a member of the country club, recused himself from voting on the measure, saying his company supplies construction materials to the club. Council member Ann Poe also recused herself, citing her home’s proximity to the project. However, despite requests from neighborhood residents Tom Carfrae and TL Thousand, Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell, also a country club member, emphatically rejected requests that she recuse herself. “I've been called a lot of things in a disparaging way, but ambitious in a disparaging way – I’ve got to say, that's a first,” she said, responding to comments made earlier in the meeting. She then added, “I will not be recusing myself. That is the short story on this, despite anyone's demand here. There's no scenario where either I or anyone in my family will directly benefit (from this plan. I have been a member of this country club since 2001. When I took this job, I knew it wasn't going to be just about ribbon cuttings and parades. You expect me to take a vote on this, and I will be voting on this. I do have questions, and I will look forward to working with staff.” The council then voted to table the proposal for an unspecified future meeting, after concerns can be addressed by city staff and country club representatives.