Fletcher park is adding basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts.

Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: I’ve heard that the Town of Fletcher is looking to install tennis and pickleball courts in Bill Moore Park. Is this correct? If so, where will they go? And when? Also, will these be separate courts — by that, dedicated pickleball courts and tennis courts just for tennis?

My answer: Not sure if you’ve heard of pickleball yet, but if you haven’t, just ask a player to talk to you about it. Allot three to four hours for the discourse.

Real answer: Full disclosure: As a Fletcher resident and a pickleball player myself, I’m pretty excited about this. The question did come from a friend and fellow Fletcher resident, though, not yours truly.

The Town of Fletcher is installing basketball, pickleball and tennis courts in Bill Moore Park, a $482,550 investment. Did we mention pickleball? Construction should run through mid-August. // Watchdog photo by John Boyle.

Yes, pickleball — and more — is coming to Bill Moore Park, which is off Howard Gap Road not far from U.S. 25 and “downtown” Fletcher.

“The multi-court project has begun construction, and it will run into mid-August this summer at the park,” Fletcher Parks & Recreation Director Greg Walker said via email. 

Once completed, there will be four pickleball courts and one tennis court, as well as one smaller,  full-length basketball court and an adjoining half-court for basketball.

The best part is all of these will be dedicated to their own sport, so “no overlap shared courts,” Walker said.

Often, pickleball courts are situated on tennis courts, with lines painted on the tennis courts for the smaller pickleball dimensions. This can lead to conflicts between tennis players and pickleballers, and it requires pickleball players to bring in and set up their own nets.

So dedicated courts are the best scenario for all players.

It might look like a patch of dirt now, but pickleball magic will come to Fletcher by the fall. // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

At Bill Moore Park, which already has excellent baseball and softball fields, a picnic shelter, playground and walking trails, the new courts will be located in the rear parking lot area, adjacent to the outdoor fitness pad, Walker said.

Town Manager Mark Biberdorf said the total cost to install all of the courts is $482,550. He did not have an individual cost breakdown for the separate courts.

“We designed and bid the project collectively,” Biberdorf said via email.

Question: Many states have the option to force a recall election if a group obtains enough signatures from registered voters. Why doesn’t North Carolina have that as an option?

A 13th century method for removing unwanted politicians

My answer: I think a catapult located by a large body of water might be a more fun solution to rid ourselves of wayward politicians, but I’m apparently in the minority on that one.

Real answer: This reader apparently was miffed by North Carolina State Rep. Tricia Cotham’s decision in April to leave the Democratic Party for the GOP. Cotham represents a solidly Democratic County, Mecklenburg, and her move to the Republican side assured the GOP of a veto-proof majority.

The reader is correct that North Carolina does not have a recall system to remove politicians with whom voters have become disenchanted, except in a few cities, in extraordinary cases. The recall process allows voters to remove and replace a public official before the term is up.

“Most Southern states don’t have much in the way of direct democracy,” said Christopher A. Cooper, Madison Distinguished Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs and Director of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University. “So initiatives, referendums and recalls all tend to be direct democracy reforms that are predominantly in the western part of the United States.”

The South lacks that culture in part because many of the states here were formed when the nation was born. 

“It’s mostly good government reforms, direct democracy reforms, that happened in the early part of the 20th century, so we were well into statehood at that point,” Cooper said. “It’s the same reason that when you go to vote, there are no initiatives on the ballot. In California, it takes longer than the last ‘Harry Potter’ book to get through the ballot.”

Another factor is that both the House and Senate in the Tar Heel State have two-year set terms, so the voters have fairly frequent opportunities to toss out politicians if they’re unhappy with them.

A few cities, counties, and school districts in North Carolina allow removal of public officeholders in extraordinary circumstances, but in general, the ballot box is the only way to remove unpopular politicians. // Map credit WHYY

The National Conference of State Legislatures notes (as of September 2021), “In the 19 states that allow recall elections, citizens can attempt to remove an elected official from office at any time.” 

The process typically requires gathering a specified number of petition signatures in a set period of time. Most of the 19 states are in the West or North, but I’ll note that Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia have recall provisions. 

“Historically, recall has been used most frequently at the local level,” the conference states. “By some estimates, three-fourths of recall elections are at the city council or school board level.”

Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at  jboyle@avlwatchdog.org or 828-337-0941.