Pickleball is in a Pickle: Sport Under Fire at GR Council Meeting

Pickleball is in a Pickle: Sport Under Fire at GR Council Meeting

GREEN RIVER — Pickleball is under fire in Green River, as Green River council member Gary Killpack brought up concerns with the club’s use of the recreation center.

As Killpack understands it, the pickleball club is currently reserving the rec center’s gym from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday, and they are not paying the reservation fees. According to Killpack, patrons are supposed to pay a fee of $20 for each quarter of the gym reserved. He said that the pickleball club uses 3/4 of the gym, so they should be paying $60 an hour, and $180 a day. The pickleball club is currently in their indoor season, so they have been utilizing the rec center as opposed to outdoor courts for the past four to five weeks. Killpack pointed out that the city has lost between $720 and $900 since the pickleball club has been playing at the rec center.

Further, Killpack said recently the club reserved the entire gym from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and went beyond that, and they paid $27.

Advertisement - Story continues below...

“That’s not right, that’s wrong,” Killpack said, stating that moving forward, they should have to pay just like everybody else. It was clarified that the club members are paying entrance fees to use the rec center.

City Administrator Reed Clevenger said the city had a meeting with the club on Monday to address some issues that have been occurring and try to find a solution. He said he takes the fault for the misunderstanding in costs to use the rec center, as he believes those issues were not previously addressed with the club. He also said the city has been dealing with the players as individuals, and not as a club, which gives them public access to the gym just like any other patron.

However, Killpack said that’s not true because when they’re in the gym they put the curtains down so it limits access to other patrons. He claimed he has tried running in there at the same time as the pickleball players, and it has become a problem because it is hard to run with the curtains down.

According to Killpack, some of the players are difficult to work with. This resulted in the Green River Police Department being called on Sunday to deal with an altercation involving some of the players.

“They just kind of take advantage of it and they act like it’s their gym, and it’s not their gym, it’s the public’s gym. I don’t think we should be doing them all these favors,” Killpack said. “We’re bending over too far for them.”

Mayor Pete Rust, who plays pickleball, said that while Killpack has presented one perspective, there is a whole other perspective not being shared.

“Gary has expressed one point of view, there’s other points of view that are completely different from what he has to say. And they would present a completely different picture. And quite frankly, the biggest mistake the pickleball players did was try to organize so that they can communicate and work together because if they weren’t a club, they can come in and do anything the same as anybody else,” Rust said.

Council member Ron Williams asked Clevenger if the pickleball club is required to have insurance because when he coached traveling softball and basketball teams, he was required to have $1 million in insurance to use the rec center. Clevenger said that was something that was discussed during the meeting with the pickleball club, and it’s “something that needs to happen.”

Rust defended the pickleball club by pointing out that when they play at the rec center, it is often during low usage times. He also said the club wants to work with the city and rec center to find compromises.

“There’s an ongoing desire by everybody to work together so we can all use the facility, and I think it’s going to take some equipment, it’s going to take some compromise, it’s going to take some change in schedules, that’s very clear,” Rust said.

Killpack said there is another issue with the pickleball club that would be discussed in executive session for legal matters. Council member Robert Berg suggested they also discuss the issues with the club in a future workshop, which the council agreed to. Before they moved on from the conversation, Killpack asked rec center supervisor Katie Blood if anyone has ever been turned away from using the gym because of pickleball players using it, to which she said yes.

“I think it’s time that we put our feet down, and Katie’s trying, she’s trying her best to do this, and she’s not making any progress,” Killpack said.