Over time, sands shift, drift and blow away. For a time, Clark County clearly hoped public complaints over new sand at the Sunset Park volleyball courts would do the same.
But when it finally became obvious that the complainers weren’t griping for the sake of griping — that they were complaining because they were right — the county corrected a bad decision with a good one.
The Review-Journal’s Ben Botkin has documented the story of Sunset Park’s sand volleyball courts, long considered the best in the entire region. The fine sand was so soft that no amount of diving and barefoot play would cause so much as a blister. Volleyball players loved the place.
When the calendar turned to August, enough of the sand courts had been carried away by use and wind that the county decided to replace the sand at a cost of less than $40,000. But the new sand wasn’t like the old sand. If you can call it sand. Volleyball players protested that it was more like gravel, leaving them with sores and cuts. The courts, one of the best features at one of the best parks in the valley, had become unusable. Fall sand volleyball leagues had to be canceled.
The county had to get new sand — again. And officials wanted to involve the taxpaying volleyball players they didn’t consider the first time around. Samples were collected from vendors. Public input was planned.
Mike Krauss, the now-retired Clark County recreation supervisor who first set up the Sunset Park courts, wondered what all the fuss was.
“For me, it wasn’t brain surgery. I could tell right away it was good sand,” he told Mr. Botkin of the original sand.
County spokesman Erik Pappa said Tuesday that officials realized the best way to right their wrong: “The old sand was ideal. We decided, ‘Let’s just get that sand.'” So the county is moving forward with the purchase of 1,620 tons of super-fine sand from Overton at a cost of $54,918. Once the county settles on a trucking contractor and can remove the sand dumped in August, the Sunset Park courts will be playable again.
Much like blowing sand, the $40,000 wasted on the pebbles that were unfit for volleyball is gone for good. The county should save that sand for use in a future construction or landscaping project. And county officials should examine exactly how the decision was reached — and who made it — so such a costly mistake can’t be repeated.