Consensus Among Douglas Officials For New Pickleball Courts Is Reached
Monday night Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere received the consensus he was looking for from his council to move forward with the ambitious proposal to build four—or possibly eight—pickleball courts at Schultz Park.
“Right now we are pretty confident we’ve got $50,000,” LeFevere told council about the eight-court proposal estimated to cost a total of $52,000.
He noted $20,000 would come from public donations, $15,000 from Saugatuck-Douglas Community Recreation’s fund balance that is already available and $15,000 from the City of Douglas.
He explained he has been discussing the matter with his counterpart in the City of Saugatuck, Community Recreation and the private donors.
Previously, donors said they would make a contribution of $10,000 to each city - Saugatuck and Douglas - proposing a conversion of the existing tennis courts on Butler Street for the former, and building completely new courts at the latter.
That initial proposal is now in question, as the idea of Schultz Park hosting future pickleball tournaments has gained momentum because to host a tournament would require at least eight courts.
“Douglas (with Schultz Park) has the space and the possibility of doing eight courts. The City of Saugatuck cannot expand because they are landlocked,” said LeFevere.
Saugatuck representatives have voiced concerned over Douglas taking funds from Community Recreation which is supported by taxpayers in both cities and operated by the public school district, to construct courts in Douglas and none in Saugatuck.
Pickleball players present at Monday’s meeting told Observer Newspapers they were not sure if the private donors still had plans to give $10,000 to Saugatuck for the conversion of its downtown tennis courts or if that $10,000 was now part of the $20,000 LeFevere mentioned in his announcement.
The council responded in support of the proposal.
“It does seem like a valid thing in order to meet the needs of our retirement community,” said outgoing Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood.
“I really support this,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath. “I think it will be a great improvement for Douglas.”
And Douglas City Council Member Bill Japinga, a former professional tennis coach, offered that a “sanctioned tournament,” an actual, well-organized, region-wide pickleball tournament, could generate funding by having “entry fees” as well as draw in visitors to the area for related events.