Clark County is searching for a new sandman.
The search has delayed the start of the fall volleyball leagues at Sunset Park amid an outcry from players about a coarse sand that was dumped on the courts. But help might be on the way from Utah to smooth out the situation.
The problem started last week, when players began complaining that the county’s freshly-installed sand was overly gritty, not soft and light like the old sand. They have concerns about the sand cutting feet and legs, especially with the diving, sprinting and jumping that comes with the sport.
The county has requested a sample of sand from a Utah-based vendor, said county spokesman Erik Pappa. The company, Staker Parson, will ship a 5-gallon container of a Hermosa Beach blend of sand, he said.
Pappa said the purchase is not a done deal and the county is still exploring options. The county hopes to get this sample in a few days, he said.
Beyond that, Pappa was unable to say when a final decision could come or when any new sand will be in place at the popular park southeast of McCarran International Airport.
“It’s still in flux,” Pappa said.
The county’s parks and recreation department sent out notices this week to players that the start of the fall leagues has been postponed, said Ron Robinson, a recreation program supervisor. He stressed that the fall season is only postponed and not canceled. Leagues were due to start next week. There’s no set date for when the leagues will start.
“We care about our customers and we want to get them out there playing as soon as we can,” Robinson said.
In the meantime, there are plenty of unanswered questions. Chief among them: How, exactly, will the county gauge the quality of the sand?
Will county maintenance workers unlace their boots and take turns walking barefoot on the sand? Pappa said he didn’t know.
The county declined to make any staff from Real Property Management, its department overseeing the project, available to answer questions following multiple requests from the Review-Journal.
It was this department, not the parks and recreation department, that put in the 1,000 tons of coarse sand, ordered from a local company at a cost of less than $40,000.
In the past, the volleyball courts, which opened in 1992, have been topped off with sand each year. Some years, it came from an annual sand volleyball tournament; other years, it came from a vendor. Until this year, it was always a finer grade of sand.
It’s unknown what role, if any, the hundreds of regular volleyball players at Sunset Park will have in giving input or inspecting the sand in advance of any final decisions.
Pappa said he was unaware of any players asking about that.
This much is certain: The county has plenty of seasoned volleyball players to turn to for feedback, all with an acquired taste for fine sand.
Dale Haldeman, a volleyball player in a league at the park, said he’s glad to hear the county is starting to look around for the sand.
His league was due to start Tuesday, but Haldeman said it’s worth the wait for the right sand.
He said he’s willing to give the county feedback if they request it. He could quickly round up a sand posse if necessary.
“If they wanted to talk to me, I’d be happy to go,” he said. “I could get 10 people out there in a couple hours that would be happy to look at it.”
Contact Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1