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La Jolla recreation group votes to request money for bocce court repairs; holds off on more pickleball lines

San Diego Councilman Joe LaCava (left) throws out the first bocce ball June 30 on the La Jolla Recreation Center's new court.
San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava (left) throws out the first bocce ball June 30 to officially open the La Jolla Recreation Center’s new bocce court, which now needs repairs.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the advisory board for the La Jolla Recreation Center, voted to request funds to repair the center’s 8-month-old temporary bocce court.

At the group’s virtual meeting Feb. 23, Tom Grunow of Grunow Construction, who designed the court, said now that it is in use, “the top quarter-inch or three-eighths of an inch of the surface just seems to be harder than anybody expected.”

The CRG had learned during its January meeting that the court, which opened June 30 after being in the works for years, needs adjustments to its surface and west end.

Maintenance is an issue, Grunow said this week, as it “seems that it’s very hard to work that top surface to make it be as smooth as is needed.”

As a solution, Grunow proposed that he loosen the surface and add a material called Har-Tru, which is used on professional tennis courts.

Har-Tru is “soft and maintainable,” he said. “We’ll mix it in on that top surface. … The maintenance will be doable by anybody in a matter of 10 minutes or so.”

Grunow estimated he would need to buy 20 bags of Har-Tru. Though he said he was unable to provide a firm cost, he guessed it would not exceed a few hundred dollars. He added that he would not charge for the labor to install the material.

A motion to request no more than $750 from Friends of the La Jolla Recreation Center, the nonprofit group that funded the original construction of the bocce court, passed the CRG unanimously, with Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk customarily abstaining.

The west end of the court, which sits several inches above the ground to keep the court level for ball rolling and accommodate the downward slope of the land, is a safety issue for those who need to step over it, Grunow said.

“A few people have fallen there,” according to Coakley Munk.

Grunow’s solution is to bring in topsoil and sod to reduce the “grade difference between the inside bocce ball surface and the outside,” he said.

He did not provide a cost for the materials.

A motion to request no more than $1,000 from the Friends group to enhance access and safety on the west end of the bocce court also passed unanimously, with Coakley Munk abstaining.

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the advisory board for the La Jolla Recreation Center, is pursuing a new floor for the center’s weight room, along with higher weight room fees and a new game room for teenagers.

More pickleball?

The La Jolla Rec Center pickleball courts are popular on weekday mornings, according to center director Nicholas Volpe.
The La Jolla Recreation Center pickleball courts are popular on weekday mornings, according to center director Nicholas Volpe.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Recreation Center director Nicholas Volpe asked the CRG to approve a request to add lines for a pickleball court on the west basketball court. Currently, the east basketball court contains pickleball lines.

The request would be about $1,500 from the Rec Center’s funds, following up on the popularity of pickleball in La Jolla.

After almost three years of trying, the La Jolla Recreation Center is now in the ranks of places in San Diego with a spot for what’s often considered the fastest-growing sport in the nation — pickleball.

Volpe said a large number of people play pickleball from 8 a.m. to noon three days a week, with players often creating their own courts.

CRG board member Alan Dulgeroff said the Rec Center has a “pretty strong basketball community,” and he wondered what those who use the basketball courts would say about adding more pickleball lines. “We need to balance the basketball use,” he said.

Board member Jon Wiggins said he also worried that “the basketball players will be potentially pushed out.”

Volpe said there are occasionally “individuals shooting hoops” in the mornings but that most basketball court use is in the late afternoons and evenings, when there are fewer pickleball players.

Wiggins suggested waiting until after the summer to decide whether more pickleball lines would be useful, saying “we see a lot more basketball usage in the summertime.”

The CRG agreed to wait until after summer, and in the meantime Volpe said he would conduct a thorough survey of pickleball and basketball court users.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, likely online. For more information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆