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March 21, 2019 11:55 pm

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Pickleball Fever Heats Up As Douglas Officials Receive Offer Of $10,000 For Local Courts

   At Monday’s meeting, the Douglas City Council—as their counterpart across the bridge last week—was treated to the growing wave of pickleball players in the area, getting bigger ever since they started organizing games in downtown Saugatuck.

     About 10 players showed up Monday, getting behind the idea of constructing a set of four courts at Schultz Park in Douglas.

     With a guaranteed private donation of $10,000 dedicated to a proposed project estimated to run $26,000, city officials response was enthusiastic. 

     They even called on Douglas “to take the lead” on providing courts for locals and visitors alike as well as talk about possibly holding pickleball tournaments in the future.

     Holly Davis, a Douglas resident and pickleballer, said the sport, which is most popular in the 55-and-older crowd, is played and enjoyed by young people as well.

     “It’s also great for us seniors, who really have no place to go to play,” said Davis. “It’s only growing bigger, bigger and bigger. We’d love Douglas to be a part of it.”

     Douglas doesn’t currently have a spot for the sport, while the old tennis court in Saugatuck currently serves as the makeshift pickleball court. 

     Schultz Park previously featured tennis courts, but they were completely torn down due to their severely dilapidated state.

     Organizers say that since they started playing this spring in downtown Saugatuck, the number of players on their roster went from about a dozen to 76.

     Those who spoke before the council Monday also included organizers and life-partners Stephen Lewis and Walt Lawrence, who want to donate $10,000 for the Schultz Park proposal.

     That donation would be separate from another $10,000 they have also told Saugatuck officials they would provide their city for converting the Butler Street downtown tennis courts into pickleball courts.

     However, Lewis and Lawrence said their monetary gift does come with a condition: the projects would have be completed by May 15, 2015.

     Also, with respect to the Schultz Park proposal, the donors told officials they would only contribute to the construction of courts specifically dedicated to pickleball, not a multi-use court for both tennis and pickleball.

      “This sounds excellent. I am really excited about this,” said Douglas City Council Member Eric Smith, echoing a common sentiment among his colleagues. 

     Lewis presented the council with a $26,000 estimate for the four courts at Schultz Park, but Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere cautioned that the estimate may be missing what could be an important piece of the puzzle: a proper, high-grade base so as to prevent future cracking.

Pickleball Fever Heats Up As Douglas Officials Receive Offer Of $10,000 For Local Courts

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