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Planning Committee adds pickleball courts to recommended capital projects

By Cathy Tallyn

Staff writer

(Friday, Nov. 13) The Pickleball Club made its case for more outdoor pickleball courts to the GRF Planning Committee on Thursday and ended up on its list of recommended capital projects for 2021.

At less than $250,000, the courts would be one of the cheaper of the nearly $6 million in suggested projects.

But it could mean two of the eight Buckeye tennis courts would be converted to eight pickleball courts, creating a shared complex, which the Tennis Club opposes. Or, the three Creekside pickleball courts that are in need of repair could be converted to six pickleball courts.

The final determination is up to the GRF Board, which will consider next year’s capital projects at its meeting Thursday, Dec. 3, at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

“We barely have enough courts to meet the needs of our players,” said Dave Blanchard, president of the 190-member Tennis Club.

He said noise from pickleball play will disrupt tennis players’ concentration and their play. He added that parking also would be a problem.

Those would be a problem at Creekside, too, but Leanne Hamaji, president of the 503-member Pickleball Club, said after the meeting that discussion is already underway about how to mitigate those issues at either location.

Blanchard also said that the image and reputation of the Buckeye tennis complex would be tarnished if they had to share the complex with pickleball. “Consider the image Rossmoor wants to project.”

One committee member appeared to agree.

“Tennis is one of the main reasons I moved to Rossmoor,” GRF Director Ken Anderson said. “If we take away two courts, it would seriously degrade (Rossmoor.)”

Frank Reynolds, vice president of the 503-member Pickleball Club said, “We need and want eight courts.”

The club prefers its own complex but realizes that would cost millions and take years for approval. To be realistic, he asked for court conversions at Buckeye ($200,000) or Creekside ($250,000), which could be accomplished in 2021.

The Pickleball Club put together a 38-page report on the growing popularity of the sport and club membership and where and how to add courts. It was supported by comparisons with other nearby pickleball facilities, aerial photos, charts, statistics and other information.

Committee member Kathleen Stumpfel said, “We don’t have a lot of money now. Money is tight.”

She supports redoing the Creekside courts now with the promise of covering the courts for all-day play when money is available.

“How do you tell someone who’s 75 they have to wait five years more?” Reynolds asked. “We want something now. To wait doesn’t sit well.”

Committee members spent about 1½ hours debating what to do. In the end, it decided to put a pickleball improvement project on the capital projects list but set a $250,000 limit for the courts. It left the location up to the GRF Board.

A solution for the pickleball courts has been on the capital improvements list in previous years but has yet to receive funding, Hamaji said.

The overall capital projects list recommended by the four-member committee totals as much as $5.9 million There are already $578,000 in previously approved projects that are on hold. There’s only an estimated $937,000 to fund projects next year, CEO Tim O’Keefe said.

Some committee members talked about re-prioritizing 2020 projects that were postpone due to the pandemic, but that idea didn’t have majority support.

The committee did agree to cut the $2 million to $3 million for walking paths. Instead it recommends $25,000 for a short pathway near the Event Center to test a walkway material suggested by Committee Chairman Carl Brown.

Other projects on the committee’s multi-million list include the Gateway Studio renovation ($1.6 million with $400,000 already committed by the Board), median conversions to drought tolerant landscaping ($50,000), wastewater reclamation plant studies and testing ($20,000) and a facilities masterplan ($150,000).

(Money for the projects would come from the Trust Estate Fund, which is dependent on how many $10,000 fees are collected from home buyers.)

“The discussion you just had is as good example of why we should have a facilities masterplan — it’s a tool.” said Resident Services Director Jeff Matheson. “It gives you a framework on how you want to proceed.”

After Matheson estimated a plan could cost $150,000, the committee agreed to put it on the capital projects list for that amount.

In other business, the committee appointed three residents to its new Ad Hoc Communications Task Force.

Lew Armistead is a retired communications consultant; Angela Dahl is retired with graphic design and marketing experience; and Steve Mico, also retired, has a print and electronic communications background. Appointed an alternate was Susan Herman Mendelowitz, a new resident and retired Medicare communications consultant.