Pickleball Courts Coming To Schultz Park Thanks To Cities, Community Rec & Generous Donors
With just $2,000 short of the total estimated cost of $52,000, the Douglas City Council approved a “funding agreement” between the city, Saugatuck Public Schools ‘Community Recreation, and life-partners Stephen Lewis and Walt Lawrence for the creation of eight pickleball courts at Schultz Park to be completed in the spring of 2015.
Council passed the resolution authorizing the contract at Monday night’s meeting.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing for Douglas,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath.
“I’d like to thank the public, the City of Saugatuck, the donors, and Community Rec for making this possible. It is one way to draw a bridge between our cities to help the community.”
Comments from other council members echoed the same enthusiasm and gratitude.
Part tennis, part Ping-Pong and part badminton, pickleball is rapidly growing in popularity on a local scale and across the country.
That popularity - coupled with the fact the local area does have an aging population - has proven to be the driving force behind the parties as they sought a funding agreement to fast track the court-building project that will be started from scratch.
Schultz Park, located just southwest of the I-196 bridge crossing Kalamazoo River (66th Street, north of Wiley Road), is the largest recreation area in Douglas.
It has soccer fields, a baseball diamond, picnic shelter and a playground. The park used to also feature tennis courts, but the city decided to tear them down because they were so dilapidated.
Pickleball is especially popular among older players because it’s low-impact and easier on the joints. However, it is a multi-generational game and highly adaptable as an activity for all members of a family to play together.
Played on a surface one-third the size of a tennis court using many of the same rules with a few modifications, the racket sport can be played with two to four players. Paddles made of wood or composite material are used to hit a polymer perforated ball over a net.
Monday’s agreement spells out when funds will be released, with monies already available, including $15,000 from Community Rec, $15,000 from the City of Douglas and $20,000 from a donation by Lewis and Lawrence, who since this spring have been busy organizing matches at downtown Saugatuck’s tennis court.
Despite being $2,000 short of the estimated total needed to pay for the construction of the courts, Douglas City Manager William LeFevere told council he believed the city could do some in-house work that will help offset some of the costs.
The organizers’ original idea was to provide equal funding for both cities Saugatuck and Douglas to build the pickleball courts in each city.
However, they settled on Schultz Park because it offered more space and allowed for eight courts to be constructed, the minimum number of courts called for to be able to hosts tournaments, precisely what players and organizers envision for the future.
The project is expected to be completed sometime in the spring, per the dictates of the weather.