HomeCity NewsPickleball Moves Out of the Backcourt

Pickleball Moves Out of the Backcourt

The back-and-forth game of pickleball is set to be back in business after the La Cañada Flintridge City Council and the La Cañada Unified School District came to a new agreement for the community at a school board meeting on Tuesday.
In December 2022, the City Council and LCUSD almost came to an agreement to utilize state funds to develop pickleball courts in an underutilized skate park, but ultimately LCUSD did not pass the initiative because of the 30-year lease commitment needed to secure the funding.
Community members thought it was done from there, but Councilwoman Terry Walker suggested, at a January Joint Use Commission meeting, that a simple change would be the easiest route.
The lease that the city has with LCUSD on the skate park has about nine years left, so instead of extending that to 30 years, a simple amendment to the existing skate park agreement would make things easier.
The city then brought this proposal to the school board in their Joint Use Commission meeting on March 9, with the discussion including Mayor Keith Eich, Walker, LCUSD board member Dan Jeffries, LCUSD board president Joe Radabaugh, city staff and LCUSD staff.
Deputy Director of Administrative Services Arabo Parseghian presented to the Joint Use Commission the possible options to best utilize the skate park by adding pickleball. The city will pay for all the expenses needed to shape up the skate park for pickleball through their general fund. Parseghian estimated that the pickleball modifications would cost between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on the extent of the improvements.
“All the city is proposing, is basically change the agreement for the joint use, where it says ‘skate park purposes’ to say ‘skate park/mixed-use pickleball,’ that’s the only change we are doing. Nothing in the agreement changes, no other term changes,” said Parseghian.
Throughout the meeting, Jeffries and Radabaugh consistently brought up the importance of setting the hours of operation for the facility, due to their ongoing problem with not having enough field time for student athletes.
As it was not on the agenda, both Eich and Walker suggested that the school district add this to a future agenda, so that they could discuss it further. They also mentioned that this would be part of the upcoming process when the general pickleball agreement does eventually pass by both parties.
“There is a process, and all we are doing is taking an existing agreement for the skate park and adding this mixed-use pickleball. So, it’s an agreement that already exists. It’s a process that already exists. All that is going on is that we don’t have state funding to help with this. We want to do the bare minimum to allow for this to be used for this particular purpose … and make this happen for our community,” said Eich.
But the school district was adamant and said that they could not move on with an agreement without deciding the hours of operation.
“So, if the district is interested in making the simpler amendment moving forward with the pickleball, so we can get something for our community in that regard and then addressing the other one, which is a totally separate issue now. Then, the discussion is a moot point,” said Walker.
The councilmembers reassured the school district that they would never do anything to harm the school district and would respect when they would need to use the facility.
“I just don’t see the benefit of delaying pickleball, our community members want it,” said Eich.
The conversation went back and forth between the two parties and at times got intense, but in the end, left it up to the governing board to approve the initiative.
On March 21, the City Council approved the pickleball initiative, which put the pickleball back in the school board’s court to decide at its meeting Tuesday.
“I understand the frustration of our pickleball community. You guys are getting bounced around back and forth between the school district and the city for months or longer now. We feel the same thing on our side. We’ve been bouncing back and forth trying to resolve this issue. I don’t think it’s time for us to put it on pickleball community anymore. I think it’s time to move forward. I think that we have to trust our city to do the right thing,” said Jeffries.
Jeffries emphasized that the lawyer in him believes this proposed agreement lacks “teeth” because it does not address the questions that the school board has about hours of operation, what the site will look like or how long the agreement will last.
The school board members explained that they will have 30 days to exit the agreement if they see something they disagree with. They trust that Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and City Manager Mark Alexander will sit down and come to a decision that both parties agree on regarding the facility’s operating hours, they said.
What followed was a series of public comments that explained the health benefits of pickleball to the school board.
Most said pickleball offers a great social way to exercise and can be played by anyone.
And in the end, all five school board members raised their hands and said “aye” to pass the new pickleball agreement, and the crowd of community members applauded and hugged the person next to them with feelings of relief and joy.

First published in the March 30 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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