Preserve Pickleball courts close again – what’s the story?


Andrea Molberg

On January 1, 2018 the SaddleBrooke Homeowners Association transitioned away from the Developer (Robson). One of the consequences of the transition was the termination of a “Use Agreement” between Robson and the SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association (SPA), our largest club, to continue to use the temporary pickleball courts at the Preserve. What’s the story? Because lack of accurate information can lead to faulty conclusions, here’s the history of those badly needed Preserve courts.

About six years ago, as pickleball was taking off, Robson signed a temporary agreement with SPA to convert a Preserve tennis court into three pickleball courts to meet the growing need here in SaddleBrooke. These lighted courts were especially important for play during Arizona’s hot summer months. At that time there were also two other temporary pickleball courts near the Preserve parking lot. Robson had not yet begun selling lots across the fairway from the courts. The agreement was for a three-year period (through December 31, 2015) with the understanding that, if Robson began selling lots across the fairway, the usage of the courts may end sooner. It was also the understanding that once permanent courts were constructed in SaddleBrooke, the courts would be converted back to a tennis court.

In 2012, a county sound testing was done and Robson donated the land and the pickleball club donated the funds to build the six permanent Ridgeview Courts in SaddleBrooke. The opportunities to play pickleball within the community went from five at the Preserve to 11 courts total. Both SaddleBrooke One and SaddleBrooke TWO advertised pickleball fun in our active SaddleBrooke community.

In 2014, Robson began selling lots across the fairway from the temporary pickleball courts and many of the prospective buyers asked about the future of the courts. Every purchase contract for a Preserve lot since then has acknowledged that the Preserve pickleball courts were only temporary. On April 1, 2015, after completion of homes across the fairway, Robson agreed that, rather than shut down play at the Preserve pickleball courts, play could continue but with a quieter foam ball. SPA agreed to this and the temporary use agreement continued until its termination date of December 31, 2015.

After courts were built in Ridgeview, it was expected that the Preserve courts would be converted back to a tennis court as agreed. However, Robson continued to allow the use of the Preserve courts while SaddleBrooke looked for a permanent solution of additional courts. In 2016, Robson agreed to an extension of the temporary use of the Preserve courts in a new agreement which contained a seven-day termination clause. In addition, RCI agreed to temporarily permit SPA to use SaddleBrooke Ranch courts.

About a year ago, Jack Sarsam of RCI gave SPA permission to “test” the use of a new regulation ball at the Preserve Courts. Play was within Pinal County sound limits, and the Onix Pure Two plastic ball is reportedly 25 percent quieter than the older regulation ball. SPA carefully monitored play to ensure that approved, quieter paddles (listed on the club website) were used for instruction and ratings clinics to free up play at Ridgeview where courts were in high demand.

At transition, pickleball players looked forward to play continuing at the Preserve courts with the regulation ball. However, the aforementioned purchasers in the Preserve looked forward to the temporary courts being changed back to a tennis court and Robson exercised his option to revert the courts back to their original use (tennis) and closed them for pickleball use.

As a community, we are legally bound by our CC&R’s. As the SaddleBrooke TWO board explained, in order to change the use of the tennis court at the Preserve to pickleball courts permanently, the procedures in Article XII, Section 4 of the CC&Rs would need to be followed. There are two alternative procedures for changing the use. Each alternative requires a board resolution and approval by Declarant (Robson). One alternative requires the approval of the members at a meeting of the members by majority vote based on votes entitled to be cast. The second alternative requires the board to notify the members of the change and of their right to object thereto, and if not more than 10 percent of the votes held by the members (including declarant) object in writing within 30 days after delivery of such notice, the change is deemed to have been approved. If more than 10 percent disapprove, then the resolution must be put to a vote of all the members (including the declarant).