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Courts conflict? La Jolla Recreation Center group discusses whether there are problems at play

The bocce court at the La Jolla Recreation Center opened a year ago.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

As the weather heats up and schools have let out for summer, the sport courts at the La Jolla Recreation Center are heating up as well with issues of playtime etiquette.

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the advisory board for the Rec Center, discussed the concerns during its virtual meeting June 22.

Bocce

A year after the temporary bocce court opened at the Rec Center and weeks after the court received resurfacing help from architect Tom Grunow, CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk said maintenance is much easier and “the bocce court is getting a fair amount of use.”

Officials say the court still needs work to improve safety at the west end of the court, which sits several inches above the ground to keep the court level but creates a hazard for those stepping on and off the court.

Coakley Munk said Grunow will send San Diego Parks & Recreation Department Area Manager Rosalia Castruita a design to address the problem by slightly raising the lawn area outside the court.

Coakley Munk said raising the lawn makes more sense than trying other measures such as building a railing, steps or a ramp.

Castruita said she would forward the design to Parks & Recreation for review.

In the meantime, Coakley Munk said the bocce court’s popularity led her to wonder whether there could be a reservation system so people coming from a longer distance wouldn’t be inconvenienced if the court were occupied.

“We don’t have the staffing to even assist with that,” Castruita said, noting that open-play sports are managed by those who play them.

Bocce players “just have to learn how to do that the way basketball players do it,” she said. “If you see people there, you just have to take turns and have to figure out who was there first and who’s next.”

If the CRG requests a reservation system, Castruita suggested looking into an electronic version connected to a mobile app but said she didn’t know the best tactic to pursue.

“I don’t want to put a clipboard out there and the clipboard gets lost,” Castruita said.

The CRG also discussed imposing a limit on time or games at the court.

However, Rec Center director Nicholas Volpe said he hasn’t noticed a problem.

“There’s never been a time when [people] come in to ask for the equipment that they’re not able to use it,” he said.

Pickleball

Pickleball lines are drawn on the La Jolla Recreation Center's east basketball court.
Pickleball lines are drawn on the La Jolla Recreation Center’s east basketball court, but so far there hasn’t been conflict between players of the two sports, center director Nicholas Volpe says.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Coakley Munk said she received information that “pickleball is … becoming a bit of a problem” with people having to leave due to too many people wanting to play.

In February, the CRG held off on Volpe’s request to add lines for a pickleball court on the west basketball court, pending an accounting of court usage during the summer.

Currently, only the east basketball court contains pickleball lines.

So far, Volpe said, “there hasn’t been any conflict between the pickleball players and the basketball players.”

He said a large group of pickleball players uses the courts from about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, often placing painter’s tape on the west basketball court for pickleball lines.

Volpe said the courts are first come, first served.

CRG board member Jan Harris asked, “If things are working relatively well, why do we need more rules?”

Backboard

The Recreation Center's backboard is for anyone to use for a variety of purposes, according to Rec Center staff.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Volpe said the backboard on the Rec Center grounds is a multiuse court for everyone, despite a perception that it is only for tennis practice.

The clarification came after CRG board member Alan Dulgeroff said he had a “troubling experience” on a recent Sunday. He said two tennis players forced his children, ages 5 and 7, off the backboard court, “swinging rackets around the kids. That was very unsafe.”

“It’s very easy for adults to bully kids off the courts,” Dulgeroff added. “Bullying is not the kind of thing we want to see.”

Volpe said such incidents should be reported to Rec Center staff so it can convey that the backboard is multipurpose. Dulgeroff said no staff was available since it was a Sunday, but he thanked Volpe for the clarification.

Other CRG news

Weight room refurbishment: Replacement of the Rec Center’s deteriorated weight room floor has hit a pause as Volpe waits for a contract held up by insurance requirements.

When the contract is signed, work will resume, he said.

He said he also is asking the community for donations of used gym equipment to help fill the weight room. “Anything and everything does help,” he said.

Rec Center revamp: La Jolla architect Trace Wilson said proposed plans to redesign the Rec Center will be presented to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office on Friday, July 22, and that Wilson and the rest of the CRG’s Visioning Committee have met recently with Parks & Recreation Department staff members to try to advance the renovation’s development.

As plans to renovate the La Jolla Recreation Center progress, organizers said the “Progress of California” mural that has been onsite for almost 50 years will be kept at the center but put in another spot in the auditorium.

Understaffing: Volpe said Rec Center assistant director Quinlan Olds has left the department, leaving Volpe, Brittany Mitchell and Jesus Hizon staffing the center.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can within our constraints,” Volpe said.

He later told the La Jolla Light that Parks & Recreation is searching for Olds’ replacement.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, likely online. For more information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆