Monday, January 17, 2022

Lantana pickleball discussion continues

Pickleball courts in Lantana took a small step forward in December, but still have a long way to go.

After a lengthy discussion during a Fresh Water Supply District (FWSD) joint meeting on Dec. 7, FWSD #6 board members voted unanimously to financially support the proposed pickleball courts contingent upon grants totaling $900,000 from Denton County Development District (DCDD) #4 and Lantana Cares, along with an agreement from the Lantana Community Association to operate the facility.

At the meeting, FWSD #6 President Ross Ferguson asked the FWSD #6 and #7 boards to approve the funding, which he estimated to be $250,000 from each district.

“I can’t ask DCDD #4, Lantana Cares and the HOA to sit down and commit time and resources and start putting together the appropriate paperwork and agreements until these two boards have shown our commitment,” said Ferguson.

Eight pickleball courts are proposed for a portion of 2.5 acres that FWSD #7 owns at Rayzor Road and FM 407, next to E.P. Rayzor Elementary. Ferguson first presented the concept in Dec. 2020.

Several residents spoke in favor of the courts at the meeting and FWSD board members volleyed their thoughts and concerns about the project.

Those concerns included public access to the courts by non-residents, dipping into reserve funds to pay for them, and the lack of outreach to citizens about the project.

Unlike most of the existing amenities in Lantana, the courts as proposed would be open to the general public due to their financing via tax revenue.

“Do we want a facility that is open to Flower Mound residents?” said Randy Fogle, FWSD #7 board president. “To me this is an HOA-style amenity. If we were to provide the land to the HOA for a nominal lease fee and have them raise the funds and build the facility, I think I would be more supportive because then we could say, ‘Lantana residents only.'”

“I’m not fearful that we’re going to have a flocking of the Metroplex coming to Lantana to play pickleball,” countered Ferguson, citing existing pickleball courts in nearby towns with more being planned.

Regarding financing, the districts’ share of the project would come out of reserve funds and should not adversely affect the operating budget or tax rate, according to Richard Harned, district controller.

But some board members pointed out that excess reserve funds may be needed if unexpected capital expenditures crop up.

“I don’t want it to affect our tax rate or our infrastructure projects like fixing the roads,” said FWSD #6 board member Max Miller.

The land in question may also house a future office building for the districts, and FWSD #7 board member David Ware presented a financial analysis that showed how the pickleball courts would offset over $300,000 of infrastructure costs if they move forward on the office building at a later date. The districts have been leasing office space in Bartonville Town Center since 2008.

“We don’t know yet if it benefits the districts to build a building or not,” countered Fogle.

Fogle and fellow board member Bob Hicks also brought up the concern that residents were not polled about what they might want to see built.

“This is a community decision as well as a financial decision,” Fogle said. “I’m not anti-pickleball, I just don’t like the funding strategy.”

“It’s two-thirds funded,” said Ferguson. “You’re going to have a hard time developing dog parks and skate parks and getting funding from outside sources.

“I view it as our jobs as representatives of our community to make decisions around what’s best for the community,” Ferguson added. “If we go out and survey the community you’ll get many answers. I think we’ve done our due diligence to show this is something that is valuable to the community as a whole.”

FWSD #6 board members voted unanimously to contingently support the proposed project with up to $250,000 from reserves.

The FWSD #7 board then voted on the same motion and deadlocked, with Ware and Diane Wetherbee casting votes for and Fogle and Hicks against (board member Chris Pardington was absent). The tie leaves the door open for another vote at a later date.

The boards met again separately a week later at their regular monthly meetings, this time in front of a handful of residents who were not as enthusiastic about the idea. No action was taken, and board members decided to schedule another joint meeting on a date to be determined in January or February.

Residents can weigh in on the proposed project by attending meetings, emailing board members or calling 940-728-5050. Visit www.lantanatx.org for more information.

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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