Pickleball Players Offer $10,000 To Convert Tennis Courts In Saugatuck
The prospect of having downtown courts dedicated to pickleball sounds sweet to the ears of those who play the sport with a sour-tasting name.
But even with up to $10,000 in donations to convert the existing downtown tennis courts to pickleball courts, the sport’s enthusiasts will still have to go through a public review, Saugatuck City officials told pickleballers Monday.
“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world. Anybody can play at any age, including children, but it is most popular in the 55 and older crowd,” local resident Stephen Lewis told Saugatuck City Council.
Lewis, who plays the sport and organizes games, was joined by other pickleballers at Monday’s council meeting.
The growing popularity of the sport as well as the fact the area has a population that is getting older, does give city officials reasons to seriously consider what many pickleballers would like.
They are currently using the Butler Street tennis courts—part of the public park area that also has basketball courts—to play.
But ideally they want to play on a proper surface, within the standard dimensions, and with the proper net made for the sport.
Lewis said he and his partner are prepared to donate $10,000 to have the city modify the Butler Street tennis courts.
A complete modification would cost an estimated $18,755 to do and produce three pickleball courts of standard dimensions: a rectangle 20 feet wide and 44 feet long.
“The tennis courts we have now aren’t regulation-sized courts,” said Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier.
The council responded positively to Lewis.
“That is a very generous donation,” said Saugatuck City Mayor Bill Hess.
Nevertheless, Hess also had a word of advice.
“As much as you think it’s a wonderful idea, there will always be one or two people that will think it’s a horrible idea.”
He further told Lewis and the public that any changes to the public park will have to go through a public process, wherein the discussion
will necessarily include the opportunity for the public at large to provide input on the proposal.