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GRF formally approves plan for new pickleball facility

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


(Wednesday, July 6): Just over a year after a site was chosen to host a new pickleball facility, the GRF Board last Thursday formally approved plans for a $2.8 million structure to house six pickleball courts.

The preliminary design proposal for the facility, just southwest of the Event Center abutting Dollar Ranch Golf Course, was submitted to Walnut Creek’s planning department last September. Its schematic design drawings were discussed at length at a June 2 pickleball town hall meeting in the Fireside Room at Gateway.

The Board’s vote was 7-0, with members Maxine Tapper and James Lee absent. The Planning Committee approved this final design at its June 8 meeting.

The building ultimately will have solar panels overhead and feature flow-through ventilation to allow the movement of air. That air movement, however, will not be too robust so as not to affect pickleball play. That, said Ann Mottola, GRF director of community services, is why the building will not include fans forcing air circulation.

Mottola told the Board that the new building’s wood and stucco accents are designed to blend in visually with the adjacent Event Center building. Landscaping plans are still in process, she said.

The $2.8 million needed to build the pickleball building will come from the Trust Estate Fund, which is replenished by membership transfer fees from the sale of Rossmoor homes. Residents’ coupon money will not be used for the construction costs. The project’s anticipated completion date has been mentioned as April 2024, but that date is subject to many potential factors, including weather.

Food service expansion study

The GRF Board on Thursday also approved seeking a consultant to help determine the degree of interest in more food and beverage options available within Rossmoor, what some practical options are and the extent to which residents will support them.

The consultant will be expected to lead community workshops and resident surveys, evaluate the lease terms of the Creekside Grill and Bar, Rossmoor’s only restaurant; evaluate area catering operations commonly used by Rossmoor residents and clubs; and conduct market research to determine the size of the market for expanded food and beverage vendors. That research and work is expected to result in a final report to the GRF Board.

The plan is for requests for proposals (RFPs) to be sent to prospective consultants this week, to allow a month or so for responses and to then choose the preferred one, Mottola said.

The chosen consultant also is expected to survey Rossmoor residents about what food and beverage services they want and would support; whether residents are pleased with the existing options, to determine whether one operator should administer all Rossmoor food and beverage vendors or whether multiple operators would be preferable; and to study the pros and cons of making food and beverage services an in-house GRF department.

GRF Board President Dwight Walker asked Mottola how, or if, these studies will affect the Creekside Grill in the short term. Mottola said the grill’s lease means there will be no immediate changes for that business, but that its lease terms will be studied for their competitiveness in the larger lease market.

The Waterford, with four private dining rooms, has its own food service. Separately, Rossmoor has four other public spaces – the Fireside Room, the Event Center, the Hillside Clubhouse and the Dollar Clubhouse. with one level or other of kitchen or food-prep facility.

4.2% jump for non-union base wages

At the recommendation of the GRF Compensation Committee, the GRF Board approved an increase of 4.2% to the base wage pool for the 2024 calendar year for Rossmoor’s 130 non-union employees.

Eric Wong, GRF’s senior manager for human resources, said 4.2% was the number recorded by the Consumer Price Index’s Bay Area inflation gauge as of the end of April. That number after the first four months of 2022, he told the Board, was 5%.

That isn’t to say all GRF non-union employees will get a 4.2% raise in 2024. Some will get less than that, others more, based on a variety of factors, including job performance reviews, Wong said.

In a related action, the Board approved placing $100,000 into a “merit/market adjustment pool” to pay for bonuses for high-performing employees, to attract new ones and to bring pay levels up for workers who’ve fallen behind the basic pay scale for their positions.

Insurance coverage appeal

As they did in 2021 to appeal for assistance with water security issues at Rossmoor, the GRF Board on Thursday said they want to work up a short presentation about property insurance that they can take to area elected officials. They are seeking whatever help is available for individuals (and Rossmoor collectively) to obtain or keep property insurance, and to preserve as much replacement value as possible for filed claims.

General Manager Jeff Matheson noted that there’s considerable concern because some major insurance companies, including Allstate and State Farm, have stopped issuing new business and personal property insurance policies in California. This is primarily due to high costs following major wildfires in the past few years, exacerbated by the drought. That problem, he said, affects not only individual Rossmoor residents but also Mutuals and GRF itself.

Three Board members, yet to be chosen, will coordinate assembling a program Walker said will hopefully be given to County Supervisor Candace Andersen, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, state Sen. Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan in the near future.