First published in the Oct. 27 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Now that the city of La Cañada Flintridge decided to move forward with the plan to repurpose the skate park at Cornishon Avenue as a pickleball facility, it’s up to the school district to make the next move.
The discussion surrounding pickleball — a sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton and has grown in popularity the past few years — finally made its way to the Governing Board of the La Cañada Unified School District.
Arabo Parseghian, LCF’s division manager, attended the school board meeting Tuesday to present the city’s plans of converting the seldom-used skate park on Cornishon Avenue into a pickleball facility and the Foothill Intermediate site to a mixed-use pickleball and basketball joint use facility. The city is seeking grant money from the state to help fund the projects, but LCUSD must approve of the plan because of the joint use agreement between the city and school district.
The City Council gave City Manager Mark Alexander authority to negotiate the terms last week to expedite the process and send the grant application by the end of the month, but the Governing Board was reluctant to do the same with Wendy Sinnette , and asked district staff to work with the city on addressing some of their concerns with the memorandum of understanding, or MOU.
Board member Kaitzer Puglia wants to see more consistency and continuity in the various agreements between the two entities, and her colleague Josh Epstein was weary of some of the language in the MOU, specifically with the word “exclusive” being designated to the city when it comes to a portion of the facility. There is also concern about the length of the agreement, which city officials said must be 30 years because it is required by the state.
“I just think there needs to be a little clarification here just to make sure we cover our bases in terms of making sure we are agreeing to something that we don’t foresee circumstances five or 10 years from now,” he said.
One of those unforseen circumstances could be the possibility of pickleball’s popularity growing so much that the CIF Southern Section, the local governing body of high school athletics, sanctions it as one of its official sports.
The entire board expressed support for the city’s efforts to accommodate the community’s demand for pickleball courts and is willing to call a special meeting to approve the agreement once their concerns are addressed.
“There’s the what and the how,” said Vice President Joe Radabaugh, who plays pickleball in his driveway with his family. “The what [is] I think we all want to do something here. I think we all like pickleball and we all want to work it out. It’s the terms inside of that now that we got to iron out. And the 30-year piece is one of my questions, because if all of a sudden the joint use [committee] does get dissolved, to me this should get dissolved as well. I can’t see this moving independent of joint use.”
Parseghian implied there is a sense of urgency with getting approval because the project, which includes the processes of designing, bidding and construction, must be completed by December 2023 to receive grant funding. He’s hopeful that an agreement between city staff and the district can be done within a couple of weeks.
“I’m not trying to rush the board, but you’re asking and that’s the realistic timeline that we have,” Parseghian said.