Park City Council approves plan to build a dedicated pickleball facility￼
The project includes eight indoor and 16 outdoor courts, at Quinn's Junction
The Park City Council on Thursday gave the go-ahead to a plan to expand recreational facilities that includes constructing a complex with two dozen pickleball courts.
Pickleball players have asked council members to prioritize building a dedicated facility for their sport so they don’t have to compete with tennis for court time.
The project is part of a recently completed master plan for the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center (PC MARC) and Park City Sports Complex (PCSC). The other projects are a full replacement and expansion of the aquatics facilities at the PC MARC and a full replacement of an existing recreation building in City Park that is used for summer day camp.
The cost of the projects is estimated at $43 million, according to a Park City staff report. No decision has been made on how to fund the plan but council members indicated support for using general obligation bonds.
The pickleball project includes eight indoor and 16 outdoor courts; a new seasonal outdoor ice sheet and multipurpose facility; new maintenance and equipment storage facility; and new field lighting on the stadium field at the PCSC in Quinn’s Junction.
City staffers have been directed to put out a request for proposals
At Thursday’s meeting, Joe Plomin, president of Park City Pickleball Club, said pickleball is growing exponentially and the growth will continue for the foreseeable future.
“Municipalities across Utah and the country are racing to build facilities to meet the demand of the residents,” Plomin said. “To be frank, as a community, Park City has fallen behind. I would ask that we approve this plan to maintain Park City as a city that provides first-class recreation opportunities for its residents.”
VCBO Architecture completed the master plan as directed by the City Council and Park City staffers. A steering committee made up of representatives of the municipal government, the Recreation Advisory Board and the local pickleball community guided the process.
Pickleball — which is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong — is played on a level court with short-handled paddles and a light hollow ball. Two or four players hit the ball back and forth over a net that is 34 inches high in the middle and 36 inches high at the sidelines.
The sport’s popularity has increased in recent years and the Park City Pickleball Club has grown to 1,300 members since its founding in October 2019. In a survey of community members by the steering committee, 66% of 1,134 respondents agreed that indoor pickleball courts are a priority.
There are 20 indoor pickleball courts in Summit County, including four designated courts and six lined on a tennis court in the PC MARC. Six of the others are in the Basin Fieldhouse and four are in the South Summit Aquatics & Fitness Center gymnasiums.
Historically, court time at the PC MARC was primarily allocated for tennis and filled by other sports when possible. Recreation officials added time on tennis courts for pickleball on the winter 2022-23 schedule but they still have struggled to keep up with the demand.
Scheduling side-by-side play on indoor courts has not worked because the noise from pickleball is so loud that patrons playing tennis have to walk up to the net to communicate with each other, they say.
Park City Recreation Manager Ken Fisher read a statement to City Council members noting there has been a lot of press coverage and emails discussing how the staff manages use in the “bubble,” an inflatable dome that shields the outside courts.
Until now, “we’ve never had a user group make the time they play an issue for the City Council or the media or made direct personal insults to professional staff,” Fisher said in his statement. “I play adult hockey and I wish my game last Sunday didn’t start at 10:15 p.m. but I play then because that is the time that is made available. The rink prioritizes competing interests for ice between different user groups just as the MARC does.”
He noted the staff has added pickleball hours during the week and on weekends and has accommodated a group of pickleball players who want to play until 10 p.m. on Sundays.
“We support pickleball and we’re willing to adjust our hours to accommodate the sport,” Fisher said. “At the end of the day, none of us appreciate the interpersonal conflicts nor the misrepresentation of information about court utilization and court allocation.”
He concluded, “Given the continued input by a few pickleball advocates, my question to city council is do you want us to give more prime time to pickleball in the bubble? Doing so will directly impact the availability of courts for tennis.”
City Council member Max Doilney said he will continue to support recommendations from Fisher and other staff members on how to allocate time on the courts.
Doilney also said he was offended a pickleball advocate had called allocation for the sport an equality issue.
“I have a real problem with that representation,” he said.
Support for dedicated pickleball courts was high at the meeting but several people were concerned about their proposed location close to the National Ability Center, which provides adaptive programs to make recreation and outdoor adventures accessible to people with disabilities. Participants include veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The sounds from the courts could be disruptive to those veterans, said psychologist Steve Allen, who is coordinator of the PTSD clinic for the Salt Lake City VA Health Care System.
“Repetitive, unexpected, disturbing noises are very bothersome to people with PTSD,” Allen, who was speaking for himself and not Veterans Affairs, said. “I ask you to consider veterans and respect their service to the country in looking at the location of these pickleball courts.”
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