CARLSBAD — Over the past year, the Carlsbad Parks and Recreation Department has worked to create a guide to direct park facility and amenities development for the next five years.
With the help of a consultant, they surveyed community members, held public forums, and spoke with commissions and city officials. City staff considered everything from dog parks to amphitheaters, community gardens to an adventure park.
But amid the hubbub, a determined group of athletes ensured that their beloved sport was not overlooked.
The group’s representatives were at every meeting and forum for months, advocating for more outdoor facilities.
The athletes came armed with presentations, photos, and personal stories to convince City Council of the sport’s growing popularity.
They did all of this, for the love of pickleballing.
“Pickleball is the future trend. Build them (pickleball courts), and they will come,” said Trudy Stapleton, addressing City Council on Dec. 17.
At that meeting, the parks and recreation needs assessment was up for final approval.
The report’s primary recommendation, based on community feedback, was for the city to consider the feasibility of a multiuse community recreation center as well as an adventure park. But it also included a proposal to convert two tennis courts into outdoor pickleball courts.
The North County Picklers, as they call themselves, had been working with the city for nearly two years to have more pickleball courts built in the city. They showed up once again to ensure the deal was sealed with the assessment report.
They emphasized to Council more and more residents have taken to pickleball over the past few years, and the few available courts in and around Carlsbad are always packed.
Pat Carroll said that when she first moved to Carlsbad several years ago, no one had heard of pickleball. But that has changed since she has convinced some city recreation centers to set up courts for open play a couple hours each week.
“It’s highly addictive and there’s no known cure,” she said. “Two courts may not be enough.”
Randy Narramore, the former city manager for Montebello, tried to appeal to the Council’s financial sense. He described how tournaments have the potential to bring in out-of-town athletes and revenue into the city.
Stapleton said that with enough outdoor courts, picklers could establish leagues and run pickleball clinics for children.
“(Pickleball) has brought joy to my life,” she said, adding that the sport has helped her make friends.
They insisted that despite the fact that the present pickleball advocates were all seniors, the sport appeals to all ages.
“You can’t imagine how much fun this game produces for people of all ages,” said Bob Blanco.
“It’s not just a senior thing,” assured J.D. Duncan.
Councilmembers expressed their amazement about the turnout of residents who came to advocate for their sports and recreational activities, notably pickleball, throughout the needs assessment process.
Acknowledging the efforts of the pickleballers, Mayor Matt Hall said, “Everything doesn’t happen in a day…(but) if some of those tennis courts aren’t being used, then maybe we can change them.”
Council voted unanimously to support the needs assessment report, including its recommendation for pickleball courts.
After the vote, the pickleballers approached City Council to express their thanks and gathered outside to congratulate each other.
“This is a huge victory. I’m just so excited,” said Stapleton.