Morro Bay decision makers may soon be in a political pickle.
A proposal to turn the outdoor roller hockey rink at Del Mar Park into a series of permanent pickleball courts isn’t kosher for several members of the community that use the facility for other activities.
On Nov. 19, the Morro Bay Recreation and Parks Commission will consider a set of options for the space, including whether to install permanent nets and resurface the facility or to keep the facility as a multi-use space. Since earlier this year, the parks department has been considering options for creating permanent pickleball courts after aficionados of the sport expressed a desire for them.
The sport itself has grown exponentially both in Morro Bay and nationwide. Kathy Thomas, an ambassador for the United States of America Pickleball Association who plays in Morro Bay, told New Times in February that the sport’s following there quickly grew from five people in 2014 to a full-on social network. The group’s also politically savvy and has attended several meetings to ask for facilities.
Currently, the surface at Del Mar Park is covered in a series of lines used for pickleball, roller hockey, and roller derby. The pickleball players set up portable nets when they use the space.
The idea that a space traditionally used for roller hockey—and more recently roller derby—will be converted into a single-use, permanent pickleball court, has been a sore subject since the Rec and Parks Commission began discussing options earlier this year.
Members of two local roller derby leagues are concerned that they might lose one of the two remaining places where they can play their sport.
Dawn-Marie Little, president of Central Coast Roller Derby, a nonprofit organization that has two roller derby teams, said that forfeiting the rink at Del Mar Park would be a significant blow to her organization and the sport locally.
“If we lose our rinks, we really don’t have an organization anymore,” said Little, who goes by Pinball in the rink. “There’s no point in having a roller derby league if there’s no place to play roller derby.”
Little has been involved with the sport since 2006 and said that they have been using Del Mark Park ever since.
Morro Bay Deputy City Manager Sam Taylor, who oversees recreation programs for the city, told New Times that the commission will consider a set of options and make recommendations to the City Council.
Thomas could not be reached for comment.
Of all things, Little, who takes no issue with the pickleball players themselves, said that she hopes that the rink in Morro Bay stays the way it’s been—multiuse.
“We find pickleball fascinating; we’re just blown away that they’re unwilling to share the rinks with everybody else,” she said.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay