At the June 7, 2021 Board Discussion Session, the Hot Springs Village Board of Directors discussed the addition of a parking lot near the pickleball facility.
Previously, Jim McPherson, Vice-President of the Pickleball Club, spoke during the audience comment portion of the June 16, 2021 Board Meeting. Click here to read this report. McPherson said the Pickleball Club received a promise that the POA would develop additional parking space adjacent to the pickleball courts.
Director of Public Services, Jason Temple, said the area was designated to eventually be developed into parking for the pickleball facility.
The area in discussion for the parking lot is to the right of the pickleball facility towards the games area, where it is estimated 30 to 35 additional spaces can be built.
Interim General Manager, John Paul, said it would be nice to construct the parking lot at the same time the pickleball courts are being resurfaced, but it is a “question of money.” Paul said Temple estimated it would cost around $60,000 to prepare the area and asphalt the parking lot. Temple estimated the project cost could be reduced by ten percent if we waited until the end of the year and used in-house staff to do some of the work. The reason why the end of the year is the best time of the year for POA staff to do a project like this is that we are not mowing or doing special programs during that season. But due to current staffing shortages, Temple could not promise the availability of employees to perform this work.
Paul stated, “it is just a question of money and priorities.”
Gravel or Asphalt?
Director Tucker Omohundro asked, “what kind of surface are we talking about?”
“Why couldn’t the overflow parking area be gravel instead of asphalt?” asked Director Pam Avila.
Stephanie Heffer, Director of Programs and Operations replied, “here’s the thing. One of our rules with commercial buildings in the Village is, we have not allowed you to have gravel parking lots. We require you to have asphalt.”
Director Bob McLeod said, “that’s been changed.”
Heffer asked, “when has it been changed?”
McLeod, stated, “it was changed in 2019.”
Omohundro and Heffer said it was not changed.
Avila asked, “pickleball, isn’t that a recreational sport, not a commercial business?”
McLeod said there are gravel parking spaces for golf carts.
Omohundro said, “Stephanie goes to a lot of ACC Meetings. She knows what we are saying. If we do it, it puts you in a bad position.”
Heffer said, “we just try not to put rules that we don’t follow ourselves.”
Avila and McLeod said they didn’t understand why the parking lot could not be gravel. Avila said, “a large percentage of the time, that [the proposed parking lot] would remain unused and honestly when I look at that the games area people could park down there and actually have to walk a few hundred yards to get to the pickleball courts.”
McLeod and Heffer said the games area parking is often filled.
Omohundro said, “that’s a very public area and we are talking about saving $25,000 to $35,000″ by using gravel instead of asphalt. That’s a very public area and it would be nice if one of these days we could actually do something the right way and put asphalt down and have the money to do it. That’s not a very good presentation of the Village to have gravel. And I agree, that would be the simple way.”
McLeod suggested the possibility of having a gravel parking lot for the next couple of years.
Temple said he suggests putting down gravel and asphalting it later. Temple said, “as long as ultimately it is asphalted, we stay in compliance with our rules here. It would kind of be preferred to go ahead and do a gravel parking lot, first phase. Let it settle, let it season and then you can see where you have soft spots. In a year or two from now, you could asphalt it. That is a good idea. That’s a good approach.”
Temple said that in 2019 it was estimated it would cost around $30,000 to build a gravel parking lot.
Jones Finds Process Extremely Inefficient
Director Chris Jones said, “this is extremely inefficient. We just voted to spend $120,000 on pickleball courts. Now we are coming back to the table after we removed parking. We are trying to put parking back and say add $60,000 or whatever it is. We should have just left it in the first place. So going forward from a process perspective, let’s not flip flop like that in such a short time frame. Let’s make sure we are doing it the right way, talking about the right stuff. Because we only had a $120,000 budget for the pickleball courts. Now we are trying to add more budget to that for something attached to the pickleball courts. Make it one thing. We don’t need to have this discussion 18 times.”
McLeod said, “this is a different discussion.”
Jones said, “but it’s not.”
“You lost me there,” said Omohundro.
Jones responded, “we’re doing the whole repaving of the entire pickleball court. Now you are saying, ‘add parking to that,’ as well as part of that time frame and that…”
McLeod, “we’re not repaving the pickleball court.”
Jones, “yes we are. We are resurfacing the pickleball…”
McLeod, “I thought you meant the pickleball parking.”
Jones, “no. But it was in that original budget and was taken out of the budget because we couldn’t meet the budget numbers. Now we are saying, oh well we got that out of the way so now let’s bring back parking and ask for that money. It’s counter-intuitive.”
McLeod, “Are you saying the parking was in the original budget?”
Jones explained, “it was in the original proposal. They couldn’t meet the budget numbers.”
Omohundro stated, “no, no, this was talking about two or three years ago we were supposed to do this…”
“Either way, it’s extremely inefficient to have this conversation again after we just…,” said Jones.
“We never had this conversation,” stated McLeod.
Jones said, “we just agreed to spend money on pickleball. It should have been part of that conversation, to begin with, is what I am saying. We didn’t need to come back to the table and have this conversation, again. Around, okay, ‘now we need parking for pickleball so let’s add another $60,000 to that overall project within the same time frame that we had already agreed upon for resurfacing the pickleball courts.”
Omohundro asked, “How would you suggest we do that in the future when nobody brought it up before? It wasn’t even an issue until the guy at the last meeting here [Jim McPherson]…
Jones exclaimed, “it’s always been an issue. I have heard it for years.”
“It was not an issue when we were talking about the resurfacing the [pickleball] courts -was a totally different issue,” explained Omohundro.
Heffer said, “I think the breakdown happened, I think it was last year or year before last that the Recreation Department submitted in their budget request monies to put a new parking lot in. It was kicked. We just couldn’t afford to do it. So it was kicked out and the priority became the courts because of the bubbling and the unplayable surface and so forth and so on, so that became the priority. We really didn’t resurrect the parking lot issue at all. We just became solely focused on ‘fix the courts, fix the courts, fix the courts’ so the pickleball players can play and they can play safely.” Then during the approval process for the court resurfacing the parking was brought up.”
Omohundro added, “that’s a pretty big thing to do for a little amount of money.”
Jones stated, “my suggestion here is – going forward let’s think about the entirety rather than one specific thing so that we can have that conversation as a collective. Parking and pickleball kind of went together and now we are splitting it into two things and having the conversation – trying to fit it in the same timeline. It doesn’t make any sense so, my recommendation is to think broader going forward. I am not saying this is the wrong conversation to have. I am suggesting we get better at having these conversations.”
Paul said, “I think that is appropriate. The problem here is you’ve dealt with different Boards and different people that saw it through and just trying to clean up the…”
Jones said, “previous Boards threw stuff away. I get that, but in a matter of getting better for the future and learning from the past, let’s make sure that we think about the entirety of a strategic project rather than individual specifics. If you guys came to us and said we need $200,000 for parking and that [pickleball resurfacing]” we can make the decision at one time. “I’d rather have the entirety talked about at once, rather than immediately coming back to the table and going, ‘parking is now an issue, too.'”
The GM said, “noted.”
McLeod said, “we need to have a budget next time for all the golf courses together because it’s all golf – don’t separate them.”
Back to the Subject of Gravel or Asphalt
Heffer said, “can I get back to the gravel for just one moment? So if we do the gravel, and I am not necessarily opposed if it is a phased approach. It would be a permitted project because it is an ‘add’ of something on property in the Village. The ACC will get it, Tucker. My problem is, I think Pam alluded to a second ago, which is we are notorious for saying, ‘in the next year or two years down the road.’ We don’t have the money. We’re not going to do it. We’re not going to do it. My problem is, you start with gravel and all of a sudden gravel becomes what you have and it’s never asphalted because the next year the money is not there.”
Corry added, “and you have a different Board.”
Heffer said, “and you have a different Board with a different set of priorities and that is exactly what happens.”
Avila asked, “why can’t we do provisional gravel with the note that within X period of time, two years, whatever, that it will be improved to be the asphalt?”
Heffer said you can do that, assuming the future Board agrees. The Board has the authority to override the Architectural Control Committee and Staff’s budget.
Avila said, “but I am not willing to make what seems to me a bad budget decision, which is the $60,000 for the asphalt. I am not willing to make that decision today when we don’t have the budget money today, based on the fact that maybe two years from now, maybe the Board won’t approve going from gravel to asphalt. That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Omohundro said, “if you could make the decision today and it happened in two years, you’re all for that. But you’re just saying it’s an open-end deal now. May not ever get paved if we do it this way.”
Avila said, “it may not.”
Omohundro stated, “right.”
Avila continued, “but I’m not willing to say, ‘go spend the money because maybe down the road somebody won’t approve spending the asphalt money.’ I won’t do that.”
Corry said, “if you remember Jason said he would be okay with gravel because it gives you a year or two for it to settle and season. Right?”
Several people agreed.
Corry, “and then at that time, they can bring it up. ‘Now it’s time for us to asphalt.’ But I don’t think you can say, ‘so two years from now we will asphalt it.’ We can’t do that. So is the question now, ‘you asphalt, or you gravel, or you do nothing?'”
Temple explained, “you can and I am not speaking for the Board, but you are the Board that is going to approve next year’s budget. We can do as much or as little as you want to this year and finish it off with the approved budget next year or do it all next year completely, start to finish – however you want to do it. You’d be in complete control of that – this Board.”
McLeod said, “I’d like to see us gravel it this year. Let it sit for a year or two.”
Temple said, “a few months – just through the freeze/thaw cycle.”
At this point in the conversation, it was difficult to tell who was saying what as there were about four people talking at once.
Omohundro stated that you would just waste your money on gravel.
Temple said, “Mr. McLeod, it is timely enough to gravel it this year and go through a freeze/thaw cycle and sometime in the heat of summer of next year, during asphalt season – be a good time to finish the asphalt and you can cure anything that needs to be fixed, too. So time-wise, that is totally fine.”
Omohundro asked, “are we wasting too much money on gravel though if we’re only going to have it for three or four months?”
Temple answered, “you are not wasting anything. Every bit of gravel will be used and we may add a little bit more right before we pave, just to fix things.”
Omohundro responded, “so the gravel will be used as a base for the asphalt, anyway?”
Temple said, “Yes, sir. It would be the road base material that we use under the asphalt would be the gravel.”
Omohundro said, “I am good with that, then.”
Avila agreed that she was also good with that.
Temple said, “I’ll make it happen.”
Omohundro stated, “we could put it in the budget and vote on it and not even spend the money until next fall, but still be under this Board’s direction.”
Paul said, “we’ll bring it up at the regular meeting.” This meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 9:00 a.m.
Note from Cheryl: As far as I know, we currently have gravel parking lots at some recreational facilities including Bocci Ball, Lawn Bowling, Croquet, DeSoto Beach, the DeSoto Dog Park, and some other places. (I am not complaining about these gravel lots, but merely pointing out that they exist.)
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