At the Sept. 12, Yucaipa City Council meeting, councilmembers approved Phase I of the Seventh Street pickleball facility.

Public Works Analyst Todd Gutjahr said, “In October 2012, the city council formally adopted the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.”

Since 2012, the city has undergone significant changes due to residential/ commercial development and park development. As a result, additional recreational needs were identified and capacity requirements for recreational opportunities have become apparent through community feedback and assessments completed by city staff. An update to the Master Plan was approved by the city council in April 2016.

Pickleball has grown in popularity nationwide over the past five to seven years. Over the last three to four years, many residents have taken up the sport and begun to play at various locations throughout the city. Pickleball striping has been installed on existing basketball and tennis courts at three of the city parks (Avenue I Park, Seventh Street Park and the Yucaipa Community Center).

At the April 25 city council meeting, city staff presented to city council conceptual plan revisions for the project that proposed four exclusive pickleball courts on the west end of the Seventh Street Park located at the existing Seventh Street Skate Park as part of Phase I and the construction of two dedicated basketball only courts, located at the existing Seventh Street Theater building. At this meeting, this item was removed from the agenda and it was requested to be placed on the agenda at a future council meeting.

“Since then, staff has met with the Yucaipa Pickleball Planning Committee to update the proposed concept plan for review. Both the pickleball planning committee and its board have approved the proposed concept plan,” Gutjahr told the council.

The proposed concept master plan and phasing plans are as follows:

Phase 1 - 1) Remove the existing Seventh Street Skatepark equipment and construct four exclusive pickleball courts. The courts would be oriented in a north/ south direction; 2) Install a steel structure over the four proposed pickleball courts that emulates/ expands the existing steel structure cover; 3) Install lighting under the proposed cover over the four proposed pickleball courts; and 4) Demolish the existing building (Seventh Street Theater building).

Phase 2 - 1) Install restroom facility to be located at the existing Seventh Street Theater building location; and 2) Construct five pickleball exclusive courts to be located at the existing Seventh Street Theater building location for a combined total of nine new pickleball exclusive courts (when combined with the four courts in Phase 1). The courts would be oriented in a north/ south direction.

Gutjahr said the estimated cost of the proposed Phase 1 improvements to be $443,000, and the estimated cost of the Phase 2 improvement are in the amount of $477,000. The adopted FY 2022/2023 Capital Improvement Program in-cludes the amount of $500,000 for the project. With the expenses to date for the project in the amount of approximately $40,000 (conceptual and preliminary design), the current available balance is in the amount of approximately $460,000. Phase 1 can be completed with the currently available funding. Staff will return to council at a later date with a recommendation to fund the Phase 2 improvements.

Councilmember Bobby Duncan asked, “We’ve completely abandoned the Oak Glen Road Project site?”

Yucaipa City Manager Ray Casey answered, “Due to the result of the original cost estimates that required a lot of grading, improvements, water quality improvements and other cost increases the city was experiencing across the board, this resulted in both the pickleball committee/ board and staff to look at the Seventh Street alternative … Staff has since met with Diane (Smith) a number of times and the committee. So that’s how that’s evolved since April … and that’s how this resulted in this recommendation to you this evening.”

Duncan was concerned about the senior’s safety at that location. “That location is not nearly as safe as the Oak Glen location.”

“I do think that there have been some safety concerns relative to the skatepark but I also think the skatepark has been part of that challenge. With the removal of the skatepark, I think we remedy some of the safety concerns that have been raised,” Casey said in answer to Duncan’s concerns.

Mayor David Avila asked Duncan when he was referring to “unsafe,” if he was referring to vandalism or people accosting others.

Duncan clarified he was talking about basically people hanging around that shouldn’t be there that needed to be monitored a little closer.

Avila wanted to know how that was unsafe for the pickleball people if the residents were loitering. Duncan said he wasn’t talking about loitering, “I’m talking about vandalism. I’m talking about people that do things they shouldn’t do, especially if you have a bunch of people down there.”

Avila said, “A good point with respect to that, are there certain hours when this is happening? Is it happening at night? Is it happening in the morning when the pickleball players are there or would be there?”

Casey answered, “For the most part I believe the examples or incidents of vandalism that we’ve seen have been at night.”

Avila said, “I agree that many of our pickleball players are senior citizens and I want to make sure that they feel safe and comfortable. If the vandalism and those illegal activities are taking place at hours when they’re not there then we need to address that.”

Councilmember Greg Bogh said, “I’ve been involved with this one from the beginning. I’ve actually spoken with Diane (Smith). We were actually searching out different sites and the site at Oak Glen was a site that we had come up with. But in the end, it was really up to the Pickleball Association. I supported whatever they wanted to do ... If this is what they decided to do then I support it.”

Smith said, “Our club has discussed this quite a bit and we do play also at night. It’s not just in the mornings. The senior citizens are mostly there in the morning hours. We think that the increase in activity at the park would deter the vandalism and teenagers looking for trouble.”

Smith said the players are “busting out at the seams and more players continue to have interest in playing especially since the Redlands pickleball courts are currently closed for construction. We are really feeling the pinch.”

The council was told by Smith the community park location was highly desired by the pickleball community but the costs didn’t seem feasible. Other designs for that area were considered including not building the retaining walls, reducing the numbers of courts to try to stay within the limits of the budget.

The pickleball community is hoping for Phase 1 to be completed by the end of this fiscal year and that will give time to figure out a way to finance Phase 2


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