President's Report - January 2023
Nolan Ahn, PAK President
2023 will be a breakthrough year for pickleball on Kauai. We have explored and been disappointed so many times, but we keep reaching out to find ways to solve the problem of too many pickleball players, too few courts. The great hope that we had for courts in Kukuiolono Park were dashed when we discovered that the proposed parcels were zoned Conservation, and realized we had to get State, not County, variances to build courts. The process is onerous and expensive and would have meant an investment of at least $500,000 and maybe a million dollars or more just to go through the application process with no guarantee of success. We scrapped our negotiations just as we were nearing agreement but we learned much in the process. In my opinion, pickleball courts on golf courses is a natural fit and we will see more of this soon.
In 2022, we explored pickleball possibilities for an abandoned fenced basketball court in Lihue, but it was ultimately ceded to a government agency. The agency is considering converting the courts to four dedicated pickleball courts and may want to partner with PAK to manage and operate. Since Lihue Pickleball is continuing to grow, four more courts will be much used and appreciated. Wilcox courts continue to get heavy play on the worst surfaces one could imagine. Kalena Park has a basketball pad lined with three pickleball courts. Even though the courts are not long enough for safe play, it gets lots of use from picklers who want a shorter wait between games than at Kalawai. We have begun preliminary discussions with the land owners nearby for a new facility on vacant land but anticipate that it will be at least a year or two before they can make decisions that will include us.
The County is concluding their renovation of two tennis courts in Koloa Park which included complete resurfacing, new fencing, and lights, with four dedicated pickleball courts on the footprint of one former tennis court, facing east-west. The adjacent tennis court will have ghost lines and use portable nets, as will a basketball court nearby. It is the last pickleball facility on their radar for some time. It is due to open this month. Thank you for your communication with us, Melanie Okamoto, and Nancy McMahon.
In Princeville, basketball courts resurfaced by pickleballers got so much play that the community complained of the noise, causing the HOA to severely restrict play. There are ongoing negotiations to build facilities away from homes, but resistance from residents may make that difficult. Generally, we are finding that pickleball too close to housing is not a good fit. Alternatively, the north shore leaders are looking to put up courts in Hanalei and are negotiating with land owners. Welcome to PAK’s world, Bob Day, Sande Lew, and Loutoa Zoller. We stand ready to assist you in your efforts!
Our best hope is that a state-owned facility has decided to change one of their two 2 tennis court areas to dedicated pickleball courts. This follows our revisiting the idea with their decision makers, facilitated by Nadine Nakamura and Jimmy Tokioka. Resurfacing should begin within the month, and plans are to build 6 dedicated pickleball courts. The other tennis court will be resurfaced as well but will remain dedicated to tennis with two courts. We have reservations for our second annual PAK open in May for this facility, and the possible ten courts (four would be temporary) will be much more efficient than the four at Kalawai we used last year. There is much anticipation for our second tournament, as we poured our heart and soul into making our first a success. The PAK board is committed to our second annual tournament and the new facilities will allow us to accept more than twice the number of players as the first. Stay tuned for more news in coming months.
Finally, we were featured in the latest issue of Island Scene, HMSA’s widely distributed magazine. Here is the article for your enjoyment.
Aloha and Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
Until next month,
Nolan Ahn, President