Scottsdale fulfills request for public pickleball courts

Pickleball Ball

After a summer of hearing from pickleball enthusiasts, the city of Scottsdale Parks and Recreation department announced at an Aug. 18 public meeting that it plans to convert two tennis courts into eight pickleball courts at Cholla Park.

The public meeting was called to address a mass amount of e-mails received by the city from numerous Scottsdale residents complaining there weren’t enough public pickleball courts in the city.

The meeting took place inside the auditorium at the Mustang Library, 10101 N. 90th Street, and resulted in a crowd of about 60 athletes eager to hear the news they had been awaiting all summer.

According to Kira Peters, parks and recreation manager, and Karen Weir, park operations supervisor, the city researched several possible areas in which to place pickleball courts, met with players and visited other municipalities.

“For the past two months city staff has been visiting with players and looking at courts,” said Ms. Peters during the Aug. 18 public meeting.

Thirteen neighborhood parks were looked at, resulting in 24 tennis courts according to Ms. Weir, at the meeting. The staff scored and ranked all locations based on lack of tennis use, proximity to central accessible point of uses, parking spaces, proximity to nearest homes and businesses and restrooms.Pickle Ball Paddle

The results ended up with Cholla Park, 11320 E. Via Linda Road, chosen to be the first tennis court to be renovated and converted into a pickleball court.

The renovation will result in two tennis courts converted to eight pickleball courts facing north and south, permanent pickleball nets and a blue/green color scheme . Cost of the renovation is $28,672.87.

“That may seem like a lot, and it is a lot,” said Ms. Weir. “We don’t want you guys thinking we have a lot of money sitting around; we had to find avenues to be able to bring this to you.”

The money will be borrowed from other areas of the department, said Ms. Peters.

“We were able to borrow some money from budgeted money from court resurfacing and use those funds to accommodate pickleball,” said Ms. Peters.

In a written response to questions on Aug. 20, Ms. Peters stated that the money being used is from a Recreation Amenity account.

“Simply put, instead of repairing/resurfacing Cholla Park for tennis we are using the dollars to resurface and put in nets for pickleball,” stated Ms. Peters.

Ms. Weir says it is difficult to build new pickleball courts from the ground up, and therefore have chosen to convert the dilapidated tennis courts.

Court maintenance is tentatively scheduled to be completed within the month of September. In addition, the city will be resurfacing the tennis courts at five other city parks between September and October.

The city also called in Jack Thomas, vice president and ambassador chair of the USA Pickleball Association, to speak briefly at the meeting.

“Pickleball is here to stay,” said Mr. Thomas, after stating that pickleball has grown by 57 percent, with an average of 76 new places to play in the United States per month.

The informational website created to back the Scottsdale movement, Scottsdalepickleball.com, posted, “We will have public courts in Scottsdale in the fall. Wow! We got them!” within 24 hours of the meeting.

The athletes rejoiced in the news that their city would support them by providing a public place to play. However, in comparison to the bigger picture will eight courts be enough?

“We are taking baby steps,” said Ms. Weir.
According to the website Scottsdalepickleball.com, the city provides one pickleball court for every 76,837 Scottsdale residents.

The information was based on the 2014 Census, which claimed there were 230,512 residents in Scottsdale. At the time, there were three pickleball courts available in the city at Club SAR but those have since closed.

“Parks and recreation will be monitoring pickleball play/attendance at the future outdoor pickleball courts at Cholla Park to evaluate the future need for aditional pickleball courts in the community,” stated Ms. Peters. “We are fortunate to have other neighborhood park tennis courts that offer a potential pickleball conversion option similar to Cholla Park, however, there are many factors to be considered, most importantly other Scottsdale citizens that use the parks/courts outside of Pickleball.”

She also said another option would be to add pickleball lines to selected neighborhood tennis courts for pickleball, that way the courts could be used for both tennis and pickleball, but would require players to bring their own pop-up pickleball nets.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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