Pickleball Continues to Dominate Discussion at Board Meeting

 

Al Haggerty

Pickleball continued to dominate the discussion at the May 2 Oakmont Village Association board meeting at Berger Center as residents near the East Recreation Center tennis courts said some homes “might become permanently degraded by pickleball noise.”

Magdalena P. Shelton, who said her home is closest to the East Rec tennis courts, told the board “I will fight you with all my heart” over the proposal to repurpose two of the East Rec tennis courts for pickleball. Shelton, who has repeatedly appeared before the board to complain about pickleball noise, said: “They drive me crazy. There’s no way you stop the noise.” She did concede that pickleball players are not insulting her anymore and that things are “much better” in that regard.

Ellen Leznik, board president, said residents will be “an integral part” of the pickleball discussion. “We will listen,” she said, adding that board members “don’t live in your houses” and experience the problems. She added that the board “will go to the city (of Santa Rosa) and let the city tell us what to do.” There is some question whether the city will approve the permanent pickleball courts proposed. A previous approval was conditional.

“Only when we have a consensus will we move forward,” Leznik said. “We’re very hopeful we can get there.”

Leznik opened the meeting with a plea to Oakmont residents “to learn from our mistakes and our successes and move forward together as a united community.”

“We will make every attempt to work together and not against each other,” she continued. “We will be open to new ideas, new suggestions and to constructive criticism. We are all Oakmont and we sincerely hope that all of us will join together on this challenging and exciting journey into the future.”

Maurice Fliess, representing seven homeowners on Trail Ridge Place, all close to the tennis courts, asked the board not to rush the decision-making process for the conversion of tennis courts to pickleball courts. He called the concept of neighborhood “a fundamental principle” that requires comprehensive, deliberate and separate handling of the project. He said noise “is the rub, morally, psychologically and legally. If noise is intolerable for any resident, let alone a dozen or more, the board has an obligation to protect the quality of life”.

Director Ken Heyman, reporting on the East Recreation revitalization, said the deck was one of the first amenities he used in Oakmont, adding that the board has been receiving comments from residents who regularly use the deck. He called for a holistic approach to revitalizing the balcony, pool, pool deck and spa. Leznik said her guess is that the balcony will be replaced, adding that it will have tables and chairs to make it more user friendly.

The board unanimously approved a motion to refund the Pickleball Club’s $16,131 donation to the now defunct pickleball project. Directors Gloria Young and Andie Altman were not present. Peter Copen, club president, said it would “redonate” the funds with the completion of permanent pickleball courts.

Leznik was named chair of a Central Park Committee, which will develop plans for a community gathering spot behind the pool where the pickleball courts were to be built. She said there is a lot of interest in the project, with suggestions for a fountain with memorial tiles and gazebo and a “healing garden.” She said it would be a place to come together with family and friends.

A proposal to restock the East Rec Pond with fish, which is likely to be approved, was put off until a study is done to determine if fish can survive in the relatively warm water and costs are nailed down.

A bit of controversy erupted when a resident challenged the right of a tenant to speak at a board meeting. It quickly subsided when OVA attorney Martin Hirsch said he was not aware of an absolute prohibition and the directors said they wanted to hear from renters.