For print only.

Pickleball project headed to Finance Committee

Projected cost to build new complex now stands at $2.8 million

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, March 10): Facing added costs to make the project a quieter one, the GRF Planning Committee voted Friday to move a $2.8 million proposal for the new pickleball courts and associated building near the Event Center to the Finance Committee for consideration.

That $2.8 million figure is about $1 million higher than the existing budget projected. GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson said the added costs are almost entirely tied to efforts to make the pickleball facility quieter, to minimize the impacts on neighbors of an inherently noisy sport.

Part of that consideration, Planning Committee members said, will be possible deferrals of other planned capital projects – drought-related golf projects, phase three of access control and the Dollar patio improvement were the projects suggested for deferral for one year – so the more expensive pickleball project can move forward.

Advancing the pickleball facility, even with a substantially higher price tag than anticipated, is worth it, Matheson said, given the sport’s burgeoning popularity nationwide, including within Rossmoor.

“If we compare (pickleball) to other amenities, it’s certainly not out of the realm” to give it priority, Matheson said. He said the Buckeye Tennis Courts and the Table Tennis Clubhouse at Hillside are two examples of spending considerable money for a worthwhile return.

Another financial consideration is that the cost of the pickleball facility roof will not come under any aspect of a previously approved solar panel project at the Event Center/Dollar Clubhouse.

There had been discussion earlier of incorporating solar panels, having been approved previously as its own project, onto the roof of the pickleball structure nearby. But as has been reported previously, rules surrounding the tax credits dictate that the solar panel canopy cannot be physically connected to any part of any structure that does not directly support the solar panels – in this case, the pickleball structure.

But the solar panels can occupy the space above the pickleball courts. Therefore, the canopy hosting the solar panels will be built after the pickleball structure, and above it – but not physically touching it.

Without more detailed plans, there is no “relatively accurate” cost projection for the pickleball facility yet, Fred Ponce, a contract project manager for GRF, told the Planning Committee. So that $2.8 million figure could go up or down, he added, and is subject to budget tightening and “value engineering.” Also, Matheson said, costs figure to go up for any project that is deferred.

Lawn bowling

Last September, the GRF Board asked the Planning Committee to evaluate the potential benefits of replacing the natural turf at the Hillside bowling greens with artificial turf – an idea that has come up several times in recent years but has never gotten past the discussion stage.

Australian company True Draw Bowls produces and installs an artificial turf surface designed specifically for lawn bowling – a surface now in use at Rossmoor’s sister community in Orange County, Laguna Woods Village. Matheson said the turf conversion figures to slash water costs, especially in the long run. Such turf, he added, would likely cost between $350,000 and $400,000 to install, with an expected 12-to-15-year lifespan.

“This is a project that is definitely worth considering, to keep on our radar for long-term consideration,” said Planning Committee Chair Leanne Hamaji, adding that lower water and maintenance costs could potentially mean a drop in the residential coupon. She also favors getting cost estimates from other turf sellers before any purchase is made.

Capital project updates

  • Ponce said the Jenark software replacement project is moving ahead slowly but surely, with consultants having recently met with GRF staff. GRF officials are looking to spend up to $2.5 million to replace the 20-year-old Jenark system with a newer and better system to facilitate accounting for GRF and the Mutuals, and MOD operations, primarily, much more efficiently. About $916,000 is the capital portion of the project, with the rest coming from the operating budget. “It’s going to be a long process over the next year and a half, but we’re underway,” Ponce said.
  • Matheson said the scheduled replacement of Rossmoor’s golf cart path bridges over the next several years will likely move ahead more efficiently if related structural, environmental and consulting work considers two bridges at a time, rather than one. In any event, that work on the first two bridges, near Hole 6 on the Creekside course, could stretch well into 2024, he said.
  • Similarly, Ponce said, installing the access control gates at both the Rossmoor entry and below the Mutual Operations Department complex at the same time will likely result in some “economies of scale” cost savings with some key related work, including trenching for the needed wiring.