Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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Guest Editorial: 11/15/2015

Move forward with pickleball

By Wally Schilpp

Oakmont is at it again! The topic of concern is pickleball. In my 20 years of residency here in Oakmont, only three other issues have topped the pickleball controversy. And those three subjects were the golf courses, the community/city bus service, and the upgrading of our Central Recreation Center buildings. The golf courses remain private, the city bus service has proven invaluable, and the Central Activities Center has been a boon to Oakmont.

Now it is the turn of pickleball, a sport that has been growing by leaps and bounds all over the country, because it takes little space and can be played at a much more advanced age than tennis.

Oakmont’s Articles of Incorporation state that our only purpose in being is to “... provide athletic and recreational and club facilities for the use of their members ...” Pickleball is currently played temporarily on one of Oakmont’s tennis courts at our East Recreation Center. The membership has already become equal to, or surpassed, the membership of our other longtime clubs such as tennis, lawn bowling, bocce, petanque, horseshoes, etc. Thus it has become an obvious choice to add its own facility if Oakmont wishes to remain at the top of active retirement developments.

The opposition to pickleball is based upon location and cost. There should be no controversy over location. City codes concerning ambient noise force such a facility to be on level ground, no lower than surrounding residences. This eliminates both our East and West recreation areas. The proposed location at the Central Rec has only two homes affected by the courts, and sound walls would reduce noise to acceptable levels. The home closest to the location was recently sold with the new owners aware of the possibility of pickleball construction.

Cost issues are usually raised by those residents who, due to lack of participation in the Association volunteer-run management, fail to understand the Association financial situation. The OVA has four funds: Operating, Asset Replacement, Catastrophe, and Capitol Improvement. The first three are funded by monthly homeowner dues, and are in excellent financial shape. The Capitol Improvement Fund (CIF) comes almost entirely from fees to developers for each new home built in Oakmont. The current CIF stands at about $600,000, with another $250,000 due as The Meadows area is built out.

A board-appointed Ad Hoc Pickleball Committee has been working for over 18 months on plans, location and cost, and has been authorized to spend some $50,000 for architectural, engineering, city permitting and sound study fees to date. Contrary to opposition assertions, these costs have no effect on homeowner dues, as they are paid by the CIF.

Using an overall cost of $350,000 plus another $50,000 for possible renovation 35 years out from the Asset Replacement fund, the total of $400,000 divided by 35 years is $11,420 annually, and divided by our 4,600 residents, less than $2.50 per year per resident. Maintenance costs, as with the tennis courts, is a pittance compared to the swimming pools or lawn bowling green.

At the October Board Meeting, a resident held up a sheaf of papers and said they contained 1,000 resident signatures against pickleball. Another resident asked if that meant 3,600 were in favor. Quite a few residents have since told me they were signing a petition only to ask the Board to use due diligence in determining location and cost.

In a previous Guest Editor article (Oct. 15 issue) it was stated that building the pickleball courts at the Central Rec area was a “...significant issue for retired residents seeking peace, exercise, and contentment; not noise, and other disruptive issues.” I counter that by suggesting that if they are here for peace and quiet, rather than using our recreational facilities, they have moved to the wrong community. The Guest Editor went on to say that the Central Rec location “ one of the most scenic, peaceful spots in Oakmont.” Good heavens, it is a recreational area, with a swimming pool, horseshoe pits, a putting green, Petanque and shuffleboard (currently unused) courts, and the OVA maintenance shop. There are better views and more peace and quiet all over Oakmont!

I find the Board is working as it should, using due diligence, putting the community needs ahead of individual resident needs (as it must), and using sound financial judgment. In all the commotion to date, I as yet have heard no, not one, logical reason to not go forward with pickleball in Oakmont.

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