By Rusty Bradshaw
Amid a Recreation Centers of Sun City hold on capital improvement projects, lawn bowlers want repairs to one of their playing greens.
Resident Bill Pearson believes the Bell Recreation Center, 16820 N. 99th Ave., lawn bowl greens are in the worst shape of Sun City’s four facilities, despite having been rebuilt five years ago. RCSC officials spent about $600,000 in two separate projects to rebuild the greens and construct a building next to them. About one-third of that amount was donated by resident Helen Teichman.
“We want that green fixed,” Mr. Pearson told board members in the March 13 member/director exchange meeting. “You could do Bell and the Lakeview greens for less than $50,000.”
RCSC officials are aware of the issues at the Bell green, and the cost to repair them. Joelyn Higgins, RCSC communications and marketing coordinator, said outside rinks have settled and slope toward the ditches, affecting the bias of the bowls.
“A contractor has given a high estimate of $40,000 for Bell,” she explained.
There are similar issues at the Lakeview Recreation Center, 10626 W. Thunderbird Blvd., lawn bowl greens. But those issues will be handled in-house with aggressive summer agronomic practices, Ms. Higgins explained.
Not all lawn bowlers have a low opinion of the Bell greens. Steve Bezanson of Nova Scotia believes Sun City’s greens are the best in the country.
“I have bowled all over the country and Canada, and the Sun City greens are the best I have played on,” he said. “That’s why I come down here, to play on these greens.”
A former groundskeeper, Mr. Bezanson said settling on lawn bowl greens is common. However, he does believe RCSC groundskeepers put too much water on the greens, which slows the bowls.
“They make the same mistake as in Canada, they make them as visually beautiful as possible,” Mr. Bezanson said. “But what we want is brown grass with as little snap as possible.”
Mr. Bezanson also said when greens are rolled, rollers should be cleaned more often because they leave clumps of grass behind. But he was quick to point out he was not faulting RCSC staff’s efforts.
“They work really hard, they are out here at 6 a.m.,” he said. “They just need a little guideance from people who really know lawn bowl greens.”
Mr. Pearson said he understands RCSC officials are under pressure not to spend money because of the pending litigation regarding fees.
“But I have heard Jan (Ek, RCSC general manager) say, ‘If we don’t fix it on the front end it will cost more on the back end,’” he said.
RCSC officials put on hold two major capital improvement projects scheduled for 2017 in its long range plan due to the lawsuit brought by resident Anne Randall Stewart and 38 other plaintiffs. However, longe range plan projects for 2018 and beyond remain on the schedule, according to Ms. Higgins. Long range plan projects are funded with the Preservation and Improvement Fund, but work to correct issues at the lawn bowl greens can be funded through operational maintenance funds, according to Ms. Higgins.
“The work on Bell is not budgeted this year,” Ms. Higgins stated in an email. “However, we will be reviewing the budget to determine when this can be completed.”
She stated ideally the work on Lakeview would be handled this year and in a worst case scenario Bell would be budgeted for next year.