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Preferred site emerges for possible wastewater treatment facility

Planning Committee recommends Creekside location for proposed water facility; hears report on sound study for proposed pickleball courts

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

Friday, Sept. 9: A spot near the golf course maintenance yard, just across Tice Creek from the Creekside pickleball courts, has been recommended by the GRF Planning Committee as the preferred site for a prospective Satellite Wastewater Recycle Facility providing recycled water for Rossmoor’s golf courses.

It will now be up to the GRF Board to make that recommendation official; without designating a preferred site, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process cannot begin. But even with a preferred site established, the GRF Board has made no decisions about whether a Rossmoor water recycling facility – estimated to cost more than $21 million to build – will ever be approved.

Also at its Sept. 8 meeting, the Planning Committee voted to recommend the GRF Board accept results of an ongoing study into installing six pickleball courts near the Event Center, having been told that walls around the courts should keep noise acceptably low for visitors to the Event Center and Dollar Clubhouse and for residents closest to the Dollar area.

‘Out of sight, out of mind’

Though he said both the golf maintenance facility and the other site being considered, off Cactus Court near Rossmoor’s gate along Rossmoor Parkway, have their pros and cons, the area at Creekside would present fewer overall impacts for hosting a treatment facility, said Jeff Matheson, GRF’s director of resident services.

A water treatment facility on the north edge of the Creekside complex, Matheson said, would be “completely out of sight, out of mind.” That site is also more developed already, Matheson added.

The site off Cactus Court also had generated more resident opposition, even though both sites are within about 275 feet of the closest residences, said Matheson, adding that air scrubbers should make odor a non-issue wherever a recycling facility would be built. The estimated construction cost of at least $21 million, along with significant annual operating costs, present a major hurdle.

But the rapidly increasing cost of water from supplier East Bay Municipal Utility District, and the possible reduction of water from Tice Creek and runoff water from air conditioners, could jeopardize future supplies. And keeping the golf courses green is seen as not only an amenity but as a necessity, to create a firebreak and a safe place for Rossmoor residents to gather in a wildfire or other crisis situation.

The golf maintenance facility site will require more pipeline construction and maintenance overall than the Cactus Court site. While the recycled water line (carrying the finished recycled product) would be much shorter with the golf maintenance facility option, the wastewater intake pipeline and the waste disposal pipeline would both be much longer, from near the Rossmoor entry gate (where the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District sewer line would be tapped into) to the Creekside site, Matheson said. The Creekside option also would require sewage water to be carried either over or under Tice Creek, which would trigger an additional level of environmental permitting.

Committee member Carol Meehan noted that early discussions with area water providers and officials from surrounding cities about being partners in a regional recycled water facility have begun, and asked Matheson whether those talks will interfere with discussions about Rossmoor’s own facility, and vice versa. Matheson said no.

“Both things can continue simultaneously,” he said.

Pickleball sound study

To determine how pickleball noise could affect residents near the Event Center, consulting firm Acoustics Group, Inc. placed five “sound meters” near residential and GRF clubhouse facilities – three west of the Event Center, one east and one near the Dollar Clubhouse. All recorded ambient sound for a 24-hour period over July 12 and 13.

The consultants then simulated the sound from six courts in full use based on the preliminary design and orientation of the courts. Without mitigation measures – sound-baffling walls or fences, or special paddles, for example – it was determined the pickleball noise was at least above surrounding ambient noise. This, the sound study says, is considered impactful.

The sound study can be seen by going to

The study recommends an 18-foot-tall “noise barrier” – a sound wall, in essence – shielding the west and south sides of the court area, plus a section of 10-foot-high wall on the north side. That would effectively mitigate typical pickleball noise, the study says.

The courts also would be covered by solar panels, which would then mean that artificial lighting would be needed for the courts.

Matheson said such walls should be part of the project, even if what is proposed could add between $464,000 and $618,000 to the cost of the project, increasing the total to about $1.7 million.

Matheson said he considers that latter figure befitting of what he sees as a “cornerstone facility for Rossmoor for many years to come.” He also said he recognizes the walls as a “pretty significant change in the original concept” for pickleball courts near Dollar.

Rossmoor CEO Tim O’Keefe asked whether the courts, surrounded on at least two sides by a wall and covered with electrical panels, would be susceptible to stagnant air for players. Matheson said he is sensitive to that concern.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said, “because the more you open up, the less sound absorption you have.”