First published in the Sept. 22 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The game of pickle between the city of La Cañada Flintridge and avid players of a popular sport that has swept the nation may finally have a resolution in sight.
LCF staff have been hard at work in finding a permanent site for locals to play pickleball, which combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis, and seem to have found one suitable site in the skate park on Cornishon Avenue.
“It’s very suitable for pickleball,” Arabo Parseghian, the city’s division manager who has spearheaded the search for a site, told councilmembers. “All it would take is simple resurfacing and lighting. This would be a very feasible project as far as development of pickleball [courts].”
Councilmembers had previously planned for a portion of Mayors’ Discovery Park to be reconfigured for pickleball courts, but later balked at the idea after hearing residents’ objections. Parseghian drove throughout the city searching for new potential locations, including residences, the Target parking lot and the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, but the skate park jumped to the top of the list after evaluating the facility’s declining usage over the past several years. Parseghian attributes the low usage to the pandemic and limited hours due to lack of staffing at the fenced in area. A larger, more popular skate park is also available at Crescenta Valley Park.
The skate park is big enough to accommodate three pickleball courts, along with an area for seating, but modifications to it would require an agreement with the La Cañada Unified School District to be able to utilize the small basketball court that is located on the site due to a joint use agreement between the two entities.
With the facility located at a distance from local residences, there is little concern over the impact of noise, but Parseghian did warn the council that parking could affect surrounding neighbors.
The City Council agreed that the skate park is a better option than Mayors’ Discovery Park.
“We’re spinning on all this stuff; so, it seems to me that the skate park is going to give the community the most bang for their buck,” Councilman Mike Davitt said.
Councilman Kim Bowman, who served on the Parks and Recreation Committee prior to being elected to City Council, said it’s a good short-term solution to a larger problem.
“At some point, we do want to revisit the available spaces where we can develop additional green space,” Bowman said. “This is an ‘and’ conversation, not ‘or.’ We got to find a place for pickleball, and we need more green space.”
Bowman asked that staff not throw out the idea of reconfiguring part of Mayors’ Discovery Park, should the plans for the skate park fall through, an idea that Mayor Keith Eich objected to.
“I don’t think we bring back Mayors’ Discovery Park. We shot that down,” Eich said.
Pickleball players currently play at Glenhaven Park and the YMCA, but time there is limited, and the local athletes have flooded city officials with requests to build more courts.
“It’s taken a lot of discussion and it is a lot of ‘Groundhog Day’ because it’s an important decision,” said Councilwoman Terry Walker. “We’re trying to accommodate the pickleball players and trying to be sensitive to the needs of the neighborhood.”
After hearing from residents complaining about the noise from the sport, Walker asked that city staff revisit the pickleball program at Glenhaven Park at a future meeting. The council had previously agreed in April to extend the program for another nine months.