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Letter to City Council - Time to go to Call to the Public?

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

The letter below was sent to Mayor Leeser and all eight City Council Representatives on March 13.


City Council meets every other Tuesday, downtown at City Hall. At noon they offer Call to the Public, during which any person is allowed to speak on any topic for up to three minutes. Ben and Terry Avalos, and I went last summer to tell them how much demand there is for pickleball. That's three people.


PEPA wants to know - how many players would be willing to go to Call to the Public. This letter is about court time at Chamizal. But two more gyms will be opening soon. Will pickleball get more than three hours per week? And what is the status of Mary Frances Keisling with its eight dedicated courts? Are we to wait until 2024 for a bond, and then ... ? It is not easy getting the City to do things. If we want more gym time/courts we will have to be persistent.


Please let us know at pickleballEP@gmail.com if you would be willing to attend a City Council Call to the Public, and if you would like to speak. If enough people are willing, we will try to pick a date with more than one week's notice.


The video is in this blog, but was not sent to City Council due to firewalls.



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Good morning Mr. Mayor and City Council,


I am coming to you on behalf of the pickleball community, a group that includes Pickleball El Paso Association members, non-members, and visitors, that at best estimate numbers near 1,000. Our community lives in every zip code in the City, and we drive all over looking for court time. Pickleball facilities are in severe shortage.


We are asking to use an empty gym at Chamizal. We have been asking Chamizal management for one year, and I have been to the Parks and Recreation Board twice, but they say the gym must be reserved “in case the community wants to use it.”


I asked if we were not part of the “community,” and they acknowledged that we are. But they will still not let us use it. Quotations come from the Parks and Rec Board March 8, 2023 meeting and an email.


Chamizal Rec center has two, college-sized basketball courts, which contain a total of four pickleball courts. Pickleball gets only half of the facility, during the most off-peak hours, 9AM to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


We have video of a typical Tuesday, and it tells the story better than any words, but if I attach it a firewall might stop this email. Please let me know if I may send it to you.


This is what it shows at 10:50 on a Tuesday morning:


In the first gym one basketball player has finished shooting hoops with a friend. Two people used half of the facility for 30 minutes.


The other half is being shared by 22 pickleball players for the full three-hour allotted time.




This is how rotation works: you play for 20 minutes, then wait 40 minutes to play again. We spend twice as much time waiting as playing. This is happening while the other half of Chamizal sits empty, “in case someone from the community wants to use it.” Somebody who is not us.


This is not in alignment with their own policy (Parks and Recreation Guidelines, pg 310, Open Gym policy, revised February 28, 2018, Tracy Novak, Director):


“Open gym is based on a first come, first serve basis. Players will be accommodated accordingly with the available courts and the amount of people wanting to participate."


Are we not “people wanting to participate?”


On Tuesdays, there is not one facility open during the day to play on the entire east side of El Paso. The four pickleball courts at Chamizal are the closest geographically.

We are asking to use all four pickleball courts in the Chamizal gyms, during our time slots, just as we are allowed full facility at every other rec center in town.


On another note, half of the facility is reserved for volleyball MWF 9:00AM – noon. It is a ghost town. Crickets. Chamizal is not being used to its full potential.


Thank you for your attention,


Jamie Fisher

President, Pickleball El Paso Association






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