Members challenge Board on ‘pickleball proposal’

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At Tuesday night’s CLPOA Board meeting, funding was approved on a number of items. These included Main Gate Security Cameras ($6,240.66), East Gate Access Control System ($43,188.72), Sunset Beach playground equipment replacement ($136,725), a retractable awning at Roadrunner Park ($2,898), Lodge kitchen exhaust repairs ($6,600) and Country barbecue replacement ($4,588).

The Board also approved additional funding in the amount of $13,972 to pay the firm of Michael Baker International for increased time and effort needed to finish oversight of the Main Gate Project construction. The amount originally budgeted was $66,000.

Because of issues that came up as the result of the City of Canyon Lake hiring a new Planning Department contractor, construction plans and traffic control plans previously approved for the Main Gate Project were subject to re-approval, requiring more time than originally budgeted for management oversight. Unexpected issues also arose with SCE and EVMWD utilities.

The subject of the night that brought the greatest member response was a proposal to refurbish the Tennis Courts and convert Court 6 to four Pickleball Courts. Refurbishment would include resurfacing the courts and replacing the chain link fencing and windscreen. Turning one of the courts over to pickleball was the point of greatest contention.

When the proposal was introduced, President Bruce Yarbrough explained that both the Recreation Committee and Facilities Review Committee (FRC) agreed that pickleball players need permanent courts, as the sport has grown tremendously in popularity since it was introduced in January.

The proposal to convert Court 6 allegedly meets that need while the FRC looks for a location elsewhere in the community to build permanent pickleball courts.

Bruce noted that, while the Tennis Club agreed August would be the earliest month that refurbishment should begin on the courts, he proposed that refurbishment and conversion of Court 6 shouldn’t begin until October, in order to give the FRC more time to come up with another location for pickleball. He reminded members that many people may be in favor of a particular amenity but have a “not in my backyard” mentality.

Director Eric Spitzer noted that he had found modular, temporary pickleball courts that could be placed in any flat location, saying it would be a good alternative to converting Court 6.

Seventeen speakers from the audience approached the microphone to discuss the proposal. Most stated that they agreed there needs to be permanent pickleball courts, but that permanently converting one of the tennis courts isn’t the answer. Tennis players and pickleball players alike agreed that keeping one court for the temporary use of pickleball is fine, but not permanent conversion.

One member presented a petition from homeowners that live near the Tennis Center protesting the conversion of a court to pickleball play. At issue is noise.

Almost with one voice, members asked the Board to table the proposal and let the FRC begin an immediate search for a location to build pickleball courts.

Over member objections, Bruce attempted to explain that the Board does not like to “kick the can down the road.” He said it is a proposal that will help both sides; to table it will be to delay it. “The intent is to get this fixed.”

Members shouted over his comments before he could finish, which resulted in his taking the agenda item directly to a vote of the Board. The Directors approved it, 4-1, with Director Spitzer voting no. At this, many members stood up and walked out of the meetings, expressing their anger and frustration at the decision.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Bruce Yarbrough commented on the subject to those still in attendance, “I didn’t get the opportunity express myself. I was getting shouted over so I brought it to an end . . . I respectfully sat here and listened to whatever they had to say but they weren’t willing to do the same thing for me . . . The truth is we spent a tremendous time on this thing. We didn’t just pull it out of the air. We vetted it through different committees and that’s the way we’re supposed to do things. The committees give us recommendations and we go from there.”

“The proposal I put forth today about extending this thing out gives us plenty of opportunity to get this thing done. Tabling this issue would not have made it faster, it would have slowed it down . . . You have to have a little faith.” Bruce didn’t clarify what he meant by “getting this thing done,” but his earlier comments seemed to indicate he wanted the FRC to begin an immediate search for another location for the pickleball courts.

Bruce also thanked Directors Dave Eilers and Doug Gordon for their work on the Board. This was their last meeting before the election.

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