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Hobby studios, pickleball get 2021 funding — with a catch

By Cathy Tallyn

Staff writer

 

Residents who use Gateway’s hobby studios and pickleball players may get their facilities improved next year. But there are strings attached.

After much resident input and discussion, the GRF Board unanimously decided Dec. 3 to add $400,000 to the $400,000 it already set aside for studio improvements and spend up to $300,000 to re-do the Creekside pickleball courts.

However, it’s unknown how much renovation $800,000 can buy. The estimate for the entire project is $1.6 million. Director Sue Adams suggested completing the studio renovations in phases, and the rest of the Board agreed.

For the pickleball court improvements, the Board stipulated that they come with the caveat that players use quieter, “green” paddles to lessen noise.

The Board has about $1.5 million to spend on capital projects next year and allocated just under $1 million for six projects. Those include a facilities masterplan ($150,000), median conversion ($50,000), wastewater plant studies ($20,000) and walking paths ($25,000 out of the $2 million to $3 million projected cost).

Director Carl Brown suggested that $25,000 be used for a “test” pathway to determine if a less expensive material he suggested might work. Landscape Manager Rebecca Pollon said, “I’m nervous about using anything that’s unvetted. … There’s got to be a reason others aren’t using this less expensive material.”

The Board allocated $25,000 for walkways but didn’t determine how the money was to be used.

Walkers also lost out on their bid to use the Creekside Golf Course cart paths in the late afternoon while it’s still daylight.

Saying that the 9-hole course is for golfers and citing safety and loss of revenue concerns, the Board decided to withdraw its permission to walk on the course late afternoons Tuesdays through Sundays. Walkers are welcome to use both Creekside and Dollar Ranch golf course paths on most Mondays, when the courses are closed for maintenance.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to help maintain income for our golfing program,” said Board member Dale Harrington. It’s estimated if golf was curtailed for walkers, about $1,800 a week in revenue would be lost.

During the unprecedented 4½ hour meeting, the Board listened to 21 residents’ opinions. Most were concerned about where pickleball courts should be located.

They called for the Board to reject the idea of converting two Buckeye tennis courts to pickleball courts. Many cited noise and parking concerns. There’s a sound like a “gunshot” when a pickleball hits a racket, said Dave Kern.

Susan Hill asked the Board not to “cannibalize” the tennis courts. Tennis Club President Dave Blanchard said, “Good alternatives exist.”

Director of Resident Services Jeff Matheson said Buckeye and Creekside are the only level areas available for sports courts. “These two locations are the best alternative.”

Tennis players urged the Board to instead redo the existing Creekside courts or build a first-class indoor pickleball complex.

Pickleball President Leeann Hamaji suggested, “Approve $250,000 for pickleball courts with no specific location.” GRF staff and players could then take a hard look and come up with a site, she said. “Our members are willing to compromise.”

However, the Board was adamant it wanted court changes to be made at Creekside. And that an “acoustic fence” was not enough to muffle the noise when a ball hits a paddle. Board President Bob Kelso said other communities have done studies on paddles and there about 30 “green zone” paddles. The cost starts at about $80, said Brown.

In other business, the Board:

  • Appointed Mary Hurt to the GRF Board immediately to serve until May 10.
  • Heard information about proposed changes to GRF’s media access policy and deferred action to Jan. 28.
  • Approved a policy on demonstrations.
  • Appointed to the Golf Advisory Committee Pascal “Pat” Iacullo from the Men’s Golf Club and Sara Buehrer form the Rossmoor Women’s Nine-Hole Golf Club. The two-year terms are effective Jan. 1.
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