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New Game Puts Cerritos Council in a Pickle

By Jerry Bernstein

The Cerritos City Council Chamber was packed with residents living adjacent to Westgate Park at the Apr. 23 council meeting, who were split on where a fairly new sport “Pickleball” should be played. The residents were unanimously against converting the park’s existing tennis court into a Pickleball court, but were divided on the question of sharing the court with the newer sport. At its Feb 2 meeting the Parks and Recreation Commission in a 3-2 vote recommended the tennis court at Westgate Park be converted into four Pickleball courts.

The sport was created in 1965 and is commonly played on tennis courts because it is similar to tennis. The game utilizes a perforated plastic ball, similar to a whiffle ball, and wood or composite paddles. Like tennis a net divides the court into two separate areas , however portable nets can be utilized where courts have generic purposes and serve multiple sports. One tennis court could be converted into four Pickleball courts.

Sherre Titus, Recreation Services Superintendent, told the council that Pickleball court lines had been painted onto an existing concrete playing surface located in the infield area of the Liberty Park track. She said the lines were installed in response to numerous requests from residents desiring a location to play the sport.

Titus said the playing surface was selected as the ideal space given its multi-purpose nature, size and dimensions, providing two temporary Pickleball  courts that can be set up and removed as needed.

The council reviewed five options that included converting the Westgate Tennis Courts into a permanent Pickleball facility with four courts; create a shared-use facility at Westgate that would accommodate both tennis and Pickleball play for 90 days; expand the existing multi-use slab located inside the track at Liberty Park; schedule Pickleball  drop-in play time at the Community Gymnasium at Whitney High School; and public use of Pickleball courts at Tracy High School. However it was noted the courts would need to be resurfaced, re-striped and new nets would be needed plus additional light standards installed to adequately illuminate all six courts. Total estimated cost would be $40,000. Additionally the City would need to enter into a joint-use agreement with the District allowing the courts to be used by Cerritos residents when school was not in session.

Councilmember Carol Chen noted the costs of the various options were as follows: Option one and two were estimated at $5,000 each plus an estimated $2-3,000 for staff. Option three is estimated at $33,000. Option four no additional cost because staff is already present. Titus said during the summer, the city operates the gymnasium all day. Option five involves Tracy High School.

Councilmember Mark Pulido asked if the current arrangement at Liberty Park would continue no matter what the council decided that night. Titus said yes. Pulido then asked if staff has researched the use of the Westgate tennis courts since the Commission has made its recommendation in the belief the tennis courts were under utilized. The answer was no.

Both Mayor Jim Edwards and Councilmember Chen cited the necessity for the city to guard its moneys since over the past few years the state has taken millions of dollars from the city and with the demise of the city’s Redevelopment Agency as approved by the legislature under the leadership of the Governor, the city is under budget. The Mayor said the council could dip into the city reserves but the council was very prudent about doing that. Chen said we need to wait until the budget comes before the council and see what it looks like. She recommended Option Four.

In voting the way it did the council urged city residents to wait until the council starts budget deliberations for the new fiscal year 2012-13 so it will know how the city stands financially and how much it will have to spend.

Councilman Joseph Cho said he favored putting the additional Pickleball courts in the regional park not a neighborhood park. He favored contacting Supervisor Don Knabe to look into the possibility of placing the courts there.

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