The city’s Beaches, Parks & Recreation Commission landed Tuesday, Aug. 29, on a recommendation to provide to the City Council, voting unanimously for a pickleball facility design with the most parking spaces and a secondary restroom near other park amenities.
Tuesday’s decision came after the commission delayed making a recommendation at its previous meeting on Aug. 8, as it wanted clarification on how the facility would impact other parts of the updated Richard T. Steed Memorial Park Master Plan that the council approved in May.
Beaches, Parks & Recreation Department Director Samantha Wylie affirmed the rest of the park wouldn’t face any significant impacts.
“The consideration of design of 24 courts is all the commission’s focused on,” she said. “The sand volleyball courts that were originally proposed remain in the (overall) design, as does the (off-leash) dog park, as does the multipurpose field and some of those more passive outdoor recreation spaces.”
Wylie also reiterated the commission’s recommendation, and the council’s future decision wouldn’t guarantee funding for the projected $10.9 million project. Rather, it would allow the city to determine how to phase in any construction, as the agenda report stated the design could be developed in three phases.
Commissioner Thor Johnson made the motion to support Option C, which was the prevailing choice, with Commissioner Errol Foremaster seconding the action. That succeeded the vote on Chair Pro Tem Edward Kweskin’s preferred choice of Option A, which received six “no” votes.
Foremaster said parking would be a concern, as Steed Park continues to evolve with more elements, and that the additional 165 spaces included in Option C could help with that issue. He also liked the location of the secondary restroom, near court Nos. 20, 22, and 24, as opposed to having it near the park’s back hillside as proposed in Option B.
“If you look at the whole Master Plan, it makes (the restroom) closer to where those volleyball courts are going to be and those dog amenities are going to be,” said Foremaster. “People that are in that part of the park could access that easier without having to walk through a number of pickleball courts to get to it.”
He also spoke about the championship court element, which all three options had, but only B and C included expanded seating. If the city did have the goal of bringing in large tournaments as an opportunity for revenue, with those tournaments normally concluding with a championship game, then it would be prudent for spectators to be able to have a good view of the court, Foremaster said.
“(Otherwise, you’re) going to be not attracting those tournaments that will be looking for that kind of environment, whether you have to build these (seating) structures around it or not,” he continued, emphasizing having the space on both of the courts’ sidelines.
Kweskin added that even on days without official tournaments at the facility, regular players would use the championship court.
“It’s sort of the facility that allows the best players to play on that court and the other players to come over and watch them play,” he said. “That’s the essence of that particular facility, so whether or not it’s used for a tournament, I know it would be used on a regular basis by the people who would use the facility.”
Johnson echoed Foremaster’s opinion on the location of the restroom, as did Commissioner Jennifer Elliott.
Of the three options that RJM Design Group had presented to the commission, all would add at least 95 parking spaces to the existing ones at Steed Park, as well as at least four in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, in addition to a central building for restrooms and operations.
Both Options B and C included 165 more spaces and six ADA-compliant parking spots.
City staff recommended Option C.