Homeowners living on the south side of Country Club Lane in North Riverside should get ready for the sound of tennis balls popping off racquets. Next month, the North Riverside Village Board likely will vote to approve two zoning variances allowing the Riverside Golf Club to build two tennis courts on the northeast corner of their property at 2520 Desplaines Ave.

The courts will be available for use during daylight hours only, according to officials, and will be screened from view along the east and north sides by greenery. But the courts will certainly be noticeable to the homeowners living on the east end of Country Club Lane.

According to plans on file with the village, the courts will be located 18 feet south of the club’s north property line and will be surrounded by a 12-foot-tall fence. A small pavilion to provide shade for players is planned just west of the courts.

“We talked to a few of the neighbors, the immediate neighbors, and one of those is a member of the club,” said Kevin Pack, general manager of Riverside Golf Club. “We’re definitely trying to be mindful of what neighbors want.”

According to Pack, the club will now seek approval from its members to move forward with the plan.

“We hope to get it completed no later than the fall,” said Pack. “The variance is only good for one year.” 

While the village of North Riverside delivered notices about the variation request to neighbors, not everyone apparently got them. One of those expressing surprise when asked her thoughts about the tennis courts was Gloria Escamilla, whose backyard will overlook the courts.

“I had no idea,” Escamilla said, when contacted March 5. “This is news to me.”

Escamilla said the property already receives plenty of noise from Desplaines Avenue, and the tennis courts will only add to it.

“We did a lot of work on our house and love it here,” Escamilla said. “I’m not too thrilled about the tennis courts.”

Linda Kintner, whose property won’t back up to the courts, but will be very close, said she’s happy there’s no plan to install lighting for night-time use. She said she’s also hopeful that the presence of the tennis courts will mean the club will better care for that corner of its property.

“That area was always neglected compared to other areas of the golf club,” said Kintner, who said she learned of the club’s plans from a Facebook friend who also lives on the block. “It looks like they’re going to make it very nice. Being right on Desplaines, it has to have that image because it’s a country club.”

Pack said the tennis courts are a result of member input and the input of former members who left for other clubs with more amenities.

“There are six other clubs around us, and all of them have tennis,” said Pack. “We’ve done surveys, so we know our members want tennis.”

At Monday’s meeting of the North Riverside Village Board, Trustee H. Bob Demopoulos said club membership has fallen to its lowest level since the late 1980s.

The 121-year-old golf club’s “front yard” has undergone extensive renovation since the 1980s, when the original clubhouse was destroyed in a fire. Since that time they’ve built a new clubhouse and pool. In 1992, the club purchase land from the Cook County Forest Preserve District and redesigned the golf course to remake the area near the club entrance, moving the parking lot and building a driving range.

Tennis courts would be the final piece to that puzzle. A number of trees will need to be removed to accommodate the courts. Many of those, said Pack, are ash trees that were destined for removal eventually.

Kintner said Country Club Lane is already something of an echo chamber, so the sound of tennis balls will become part of life there during summer days.

“I guess we’ll have to get used to it,” she said.