By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Pickleball is more popular than ever. That was the impression given by pickleball ambassador Kristy Rostawicki at the April 17 meeting of the advisory committee that oversees the Lake Arrowhead dam and MacKay Park.
“We now have 775 members on our Facebook page,” Rostawicki said, noting they added 20 new members in the last month. “I see the summer as being very busy.”
She cautioned the committee not to make reservations for the courts available online, foreseeing problems with regular players who show up only to find the courts busy.
Jenny Hueter, general manager of the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District, noted they will soon be using the ACTIVEnet app for people to make reservations. When people log on to the app, they can see which Rec and Park services and locations are available.
When Chair Ken Witte asked about the cost, Hueter said it’s about $20,000 a year “but it takes an administrator out of the picture.” No one, she noted, has to answer the phone and take reservations.
Hueter also said it will be possible to block out certain times – leaving them open. Committee member Brenda Murray wondered if it would be possible to designate one court for reservations, leaving the others open. Hueter’s answer was yes, but that would require some oversight.
“For now,” Rostawicki asked, “can we block from 7 a.m. to noon, seven days a week, so the courts can’t be rented then unless the person calls for permission?” In the summer, she noted, there will be up to 70 people there in that block of time.
Committee member and vice chair William Kanayan said his group of pickleball players started with four members; now there are 12 to 16, meeting five days a week at 7 a.m.
The community, noted Brenda Murray, wants the pickleball courts expanded. “I haven’t seen any other requests,” she said.
Lewis Murray, 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe’s local representative, said he had spoken with the supervisor about additional pickleball courts. “She is in favor of that,” Murray said, “and had some funding ideas. She would like to see additional courts built somehow. She asked what it costs to build a court.” Rowe also asked about locations for additional courts.
Kanayan said he and Rostawicki had discussed possible locations and agree relocating the workout equipment could be Phase 1 of adding more courts. Additional courts, he said, would have to be in a different area.
Lewis Murray also said he and the supervisor had discussed working in the future with Rec and Park. “She would be supportive of that,” Murray said, “some sort of partnership.”
In discussing the possibility of getting a grant to fund additional courts, Witte said they don’t have the required data for such an application. They need to know how many people use MacKay Park, how many people with special needs. “It’s hard to come by that data,” Witte said.
Kanayan agreed, saying “there’s no tracking of who’s there.”
Rostawicki wondered about the possibility of adding cameras at the park. “That could help monitor the number of people there. It could also help with vandalism.” “And illegal dumping,” Kanayan added.
Another solution, Rostawicki said, would be to have a sign-in sheet at the pickleball courts or perhaps a QR code that would track the number of people who come to play.
Moe Yousif, the deputy director of Special Districts, reported at the meeting that Lake Arrowhead is at 5,114.5 feet and Papoose at 5,115. Papoose is up 13 feet since January while Lake Arrowhead is up six feet.
“If you haven’t done so,” urged Witte, “go take a look at Papoose. I haven’t seen it that full for five years.”
As for the upgrade to the restrooms at MacKay Park, David Doublet, the assistant director of Public Works Special Districts, said they will be awarding a contract for $105,900 to replace the pit toilets with flush ones. The contract will go to the board of supervisors for approval on May 9. There will be a 90-day construction schedule.
When Kanayan asked about funding for the improved restrooms, Yousif said it was already budgeted in Special Districts. However, it had been budgeted at $90,000 so the additional funding will be part of the board item.