The Goleta community will celebrate the completion of the city’s pickleball court renovations and the re-opening of the courts at the Goleta Valley Community Center (GVCC) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, 12:15 p.m. Saturday May 7 at GVCC, 5679 Hollister Ave.

The event will recognize the work of Mike and Mandy Meyers, and Dave and Tracy Wilcox for their leadership and commitment to improving not just the courts but the lives of hundreds of people who have found a new place to enjoy outdoor recreation.

“It’s been a long process to change our dilapidated outdoor tennis and basketball courts to these beautiful new pickleball courts, but now it’s time to celebrate and give special recognition to those that helped make the renovations possible,” said Charlie Johnson, acting general manager for the nonprofit GVCC.

The change in use was initiated by Glen Avolio, a local resident who wanted to play pickleball and asked if he could temporarily stripe the basketball court for the game. The requesst was approved in 2019, and since then GVCC, with community support, began the slow process of making incremental changes to improve the courts.

The first change was switching the striping from tape to paint, to make the court lines more durable. A Go Fund Me account was set up to help raise money for other improvements like replacing existing lights boxes for LED lights that are more energy efficient and cut down on maintenance cost.

The pickleball community responded by holding several tournaments and clinics to help raise more funds for new entry gates into courts 1, 2 and 3. Mike Meyers secured a donation of lightly used windscreens from UCSB and worked with volunteers to install it. The fundraising also helped with the purchase of new portable nets and fences between the individual courts.

The GVCC Board of Directors approved $42,000 toward resurfacing the courts, including painting and striping, new windscreens, and permanent net post and nets. However, before the renovation work could start the city of Goleta required a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Commission to determine if the proposal to make permanent pickleball courts was in line with the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

The Parks and Recreation Commission approved the proposal with noted changes, it was forwarded to the City Council. GVCC scheduled another presentation for the City Council seeking approval to move forward with the permanent changes.

“The renovated courts add to the recreational value of the Community Center campus, and they are an important funding stream for GVCC, and are an important stimulus to the local economy, with players patronizing the local restaurants, hotels, and gas stations,” Johnson said.

The renovations were funded by the Go Fund Me Account, private donations, Pickleball fund raisers and the donation from the GVCC Board of Directors; no public funds were used to make the improvements.

“We are proud and excited about the newly renovated courts, but our work is not done, we are working on plans for relandscaping the area in front of the courts, to make the area suitable for viewing and picnicking while waiting to play,” Johnson said. “Our plans and hopes are to have park benches, picnic tables, shade sails and a solid walking surface between the courts and new solid surface entryways.”

The pickleball community is planning more fundraising tournaments to help pay for the relandscaping plans.

“Today, there are over 300 active local pickleball players that call the GVCC their home court, it’s the place they want to come to because it’s centrally located, has great parking, local restaurants, and there is a true sense of community and positivity on the courts”, said Johnson, when asked why players choose the GVCC courts.

The Community Center recently began opening up to returning users and welcoming new users, now that the Covid restrictions have been modified. “We’re excited to see new faces and new programs, It’s what we are all about, community,” Johnson said.