Pickleball Windscreen Controversy in Hot Springs Village
There has been a lot of “chatter” in the community lately regarding the sponsored pickleball windscreens. I reached out to HSVPOA Board Member and Corporate Treasurer Jama Lopez to see if I could find out the stance of the Board on this issue.
My questions are in red, and Board Member Lopez’s answers are in blue.
Cheryl: Ms. Lopez, you were heard to say, ‘there are two sides to every story.‘ HSV Gazette is reaching out to you to find the other side of the story. First, are you speaking for the Board and POA staff?
BOD Jama Lopez: I am speaking for the Board. As Corporate Treasurer, I have been involved in meetings with the pickleball leaders from the beginning.
Cheryl: Who owns the pickleball amenity?
BOD Jama Lopez: The property owners own the pickleball amenity.
Cheryl: The Pickleball Club said that in 2018 they were given permission and approval by the HSVPOA Architectural Control Committee and the HSVPOA Recreation Department to solicit sponsorship and allow sponsors’ advertising on windscreens. To your knowledge, did the POA Board (at that time) have any input or make any decisions regarding this approval, or was this only under the control of the Architectural Control Committee and the Recreation Department?
BOD Jama Lopez: I do not know who gave the Pickleball Club permission. The Architectural Control Committee provided final approval for the permit on December 16, 2018.
Cheryl: Is there something that happened recently that brought the windscreens under the scrutiny of the Board of Directors?
BOD Jama Lopez: At the March 16, 2022, Board of Directors meeting, during the property owner comment period, a property owner expressed concern and said, ‘the pickleball windscreens are the biggest eyesore in the village.’
The new Board was seated on April 20, 2022. GM Kelly [Hale], Chair Joanie [Corry], and I asked to meet with Charles John [HSV Pickleball Club Treasurer] and Greg Allen [HSV Pickleball Club President]. This meeting occurred on May 16. We asked them if they were a non-profit under the IRS code. They said they were not. We told them the windscreens were in violation of our governing documents. They said, “we think they look great.”
Cheryl: Has the font size for the lettering changed over the years? In other words, have some of the lettering fonts become larger?
BOD Jama Lopez: Yes. It is my opinion that the increase in font size brought the windscreens to the attention of more people. Based on photo comparisons, it appears that they have exceeded their 2-foot limit, which would make the original permit null and void.
Cheryl: Has the PIckleball Club done anything wrong with the selling of sponsorships and letting the sponsors advertise on the windscreens, or was this merely a bad decision made in the past by the POA?
BOD Jama Lopez: This was an innovative idea by the Pickleball Club, but by permitting this, the Architectural Control Committee violated our protective covenants.
Cheryl: The Pickleball Club said, ” On July 28th, the PB Club Treasurer and President received a letter from the POA Board Chairman demanding the Club cease and desist all new and renewal contracts for windscreens and provide a complete audit of the donations received and receipts for expenditures.”
To your knowledge, has the Pickleball Club ceased and desisted from signing on new sponsors since they were asked to do so? Also, was a complete audit of the donations received and receipts for expenditures provided?
BOD Jama Lopez: At the May 16, 2022, meeting, we said we would take this back to the board. ‘In the meantime, we ask that you not renew or sign up any new advertisers.’ They agreed.
On July 28, a cease and desist letter was sent to the Pickleball Club. We do not know if they signed new sponsors or renewed existing contracts.
A complete audit of the
donations revenue received and receipts for expenditures was not provided to the Board or POA.
Cheryl: It was said by those present at the Architectural Control Committee meeting when the banners were originally approved that a different shade of blue was approved. Do you know anything about this?
BOD Jama Lopez: My understanding is that the color approved was a darker blue. The windscreens were to be 34 inches wide, 6 feet in height, and the logo was to be no more than 2 feet in height, which is 1/3 of the total height of the windscreen.
Going forward, will the color of the new windscreen banners remain bright blue, or will they be a different color?
BOD Jama Lopez: It is my understanding that the color decision is to be made by the POA Recreation Department and the General Manager.
Cheryl: You said the POA owns the pickleball amenity. How will it be decided what maintenance and improvements (if any) will be made as time goes on? More benches, etc.? How will these improvements and maintenance be funded?
BOD Jama Lopez: Maintenance and Improvements will be requested by the Recreation Department and included in the budgeting process.
Cheryl: Does pickleball produce a positive yield to Village finances, or is there a subsidy, as there is with almost all amenities? What is the amount of the profit or subsidy?
BOD Jama Lopez: It is my understanding that the pickleball facility did make money this past year  – approximately $50,000. This year , it is expected that pickleball will net about $30,000. This is an estimate.
Cheryl: What is the current plan from the POA to eliminate the advertising windscreen banners and replace them with new blank windscreens? Will the advertising contracts be allowed to run out naturally by replacing the windscreens at the time of the individual contract’s end date?
BOD Jama Lopez: We were willing to purchase new windscreens to replace the promotional screens, as the contracts expired. But based on the continuing pushback, I am not sure if the option to replace the windscreens as the contracts expire remains or if they will be replaced all at once.
Click here to read the HSV Pickleball Club’s position on the windscreens.
Pickleball Windscreen Panorama
Report by Cheryl Dowden; Photography by Joe Dowden
In my opinion, the POA is completely justified in sending a cease and desist letter to the Pickleball Club. This is not overreacting to the situation. I believe in deference to the intent of the organization, they have underreacted. The signs should be removed completely and replaced. Why?
1. A complete audit of the revenue received and receipts for expenditures as requested was not provided to the Board or POA.
2. They did not comply with the request for a tax id.
3. They admitted that they were NOT a non-profit under the IRS code.
4. They also are NOT registered with the Secretary of State in Arkansas.
5. Even if they were officially a non-profit, the revenue received for advertisements would probably classified as Unrelated Business Income (UBI). UBI is taxable.
Yes, it appears that BOTH sides have made some mistakes. They both need to admit it, assume the consequences and take actions to remedy the situation before significant damage occurs to their reputations and legal/financial consequences catch up to them.
Once again I am going to wade into this discussion. First, and as noted by Jim Baily, to provide the reason for all this brouhaha that one property owner complained at a board meeting appears to be a overreaction by the POA Board. If it is the windscreens that has now drawn all this attention to signage, then it should have been handled in a less punitive manner.
Then to state that because the Pickleball Club is not a non-profit as a reason to demand accounting of their finances, also seems like an overreach. What difference does it make whether they are designated 501C (3)? And besides I happen to know the HSV Evening Lions was also a target of this change in direction. We followed the rules and got all the approvals and then when this issue came about we were told our approved recognition sign of donors was also not going to be accepted after we spent the money to develop and order the approved signage and it wasn’t an obtrusive or oversized font issue, other than it appears some staff member(s) no longer thought we had a right to acknowledge our donors.
If the ACC is approving signage not in accordance with published standards, then shame on them. If any group should know what the rules are, it should be them.
However, if this is a change in signage philosophy and signage that was done in compliance with the current policy, those signage issues should not be a party to this change in direction and should have been grandfathered. Further, if the policies and procedures are not clear or are being modified, then all of this is out of order.
There are other non profits, not just 501(c)(3), and as such, if registered as a non profit or not for profit, then the entity is reporting revenue and expense to the IRS, under their assigned tax id. We have asked several times what tax id they are using. We’ve not yet received a response. Surely you can understand our concerns, just in case they happen to be using the POA tax id, have revenue in excess of expense but are not reporting same, nor paying taxes.
Regarding commercial advertising signage: It is in violation of our protective covenants. We, the Board of Directors of HSVPOA took an oath to uphold the governing documents and bylaws. Whether one person complained, or 15,600 property owners who are not members of the Pb club, once the infraction is brought to our attention, we are obligated to abide by the governing documents. I’m still wondering why the original windscreens were replaced, when only 2-3 years old with new windscreens with much larger lettering? And, could that have been the impetus that brought this all to the forefront?
Jama Lopez – You state that the signs are in violation of the Protective Covenants. Which one? It seems that anything related to signage is Paragraph 18, which does not address signs on Common Property, and specifically allows signs (approved by the ACC) on Commericial Property.
I think if the Board was so concerned about upholding the Declaration, they wouldn’t have met in Executive Session on this topic.
Regarding the Pickleball Screens…..If some of the later windscreens were out of compliance, why was that not addressed and a requirement to modify and replace those windscreens. As for the shade of blue, that can vary by color shown, a website, computer monitor or dye lot at the manufacturer. Sunlight does affect brightness also. The shades of blue, green, etc. are many. I worked in printing for 18 years and pantone matching system was used. Perhaps going forward all graphics for windscreens could be approved individually before ever ordering. To have an individual comment at a POA board meeting set the windscreen issue in this path is a shame. Why not address the aesthetic issue in a way that allows a cost savings for the POA and a revenue source which allows the Pickleball Club to further the popularity of this amenity.