Centerville officials zero in on location for more pickleball courtsAug 08, 2022 12:58PM ● By Linda Petersen
CENTERVILLE—After literally years of discussion, the city council has decided to locate future pickleball courts at Community Park, 1350 North 400 West. Although the council had tentatively decided on that park more than a year ago, on July 19 the decision came as a formal motion which included a budget for a landscape architect.
There has been great interest in the topic in the community both from pickleball fans and those who worry their peace and quiet will be destroyed by noise from the courts and players.
The council acknowledged that noise is a key issue. Councilmember Robyn Mecham even referenced numerous lawsuits filed against cities across the country because of the noise generated by the sport.
“I want pickleball courts; I am 100 percent for pickleball courts,” she said. “I just want to make sure we’re putting them in an area where we’re not just going to be shutting them back down.”
“I struggle about the sound anywhere,” she said. “I just don’t want to take somebody’s house where they can’t open the windows, they can’t sit in their backyard without feeling that constant [noise].”
Councilmember George McEwan agreed. “I don’t want to create an amenity that destroys somebody’s ability to enjoy the property that they’ve invested in,” he said.
Due to that concern, the council eliminated all other possibilities they had been considering – Smith Park, Porter Walton Park and the Randall property which is owned by the city – even though a recent petition garnered 350 signatures in favor of pickleball courts at Smith Park.
Just where in Community Park the courts will be located is uncertain. Previously, the council had considered the southwest corner but a possible Army Corp of Engineers project in that area could lead to a significant wait time before the city could proceed. More recently, the city council and staff have been considering the northwest corner of the park.
The main benefit to any location at that park is that with all the other sports going on there “there is no expectation of quiet at that park,” McEwan said.
City officials and council members are also concerned about how to fund the park, particularly in the current uncertain economy.
“I’m a little worried about a recession,” City Manager Brant Hanson told the council. “As we go into this, this gives us a better idea financially of where things are economically, but I don’t think that stops us from still pursuing pickleball courts, refining design, understanding costs. If times have changed then we might need to hold off or if the community really is invested and we find some great grants, then we could proceed.”
Although grants might be available and city officials expect to do some fundraising along with the pickleball community, it is likely the city would have to foot at least part of the bill. The council is in agreement that it cannot come from the city’s general fund or reserve fund.
“I just feel like we made a major pitch about why we needed a tax increase, and we do not belong doing pickleball out of the tax increase,” Councilmember Bill Ince said.
McEwan agreed. “I 100 percent agree you cannot buy a luxury right before the economy potentially tanks; that is not appropriate,” he said.
Hanson said there may be some RAP (recreation, arts, & parks) tax funds available. Regardless of the funding, it is likely to be a long process before players are lobbing balls back and forth in the park.
However, with this approval, the staff is now free to engage the consulting services of a landscape architect who can come up with a conceptual plan (with a budget of no more than $10,000) for the pickleball courts. It’s the first step in what is likely to be a long process of planning, discussion and fundraising before construction ever begins on the courts themselves.
“Let’s just figure out first if it’s going to work in Community Park, get a design in place, maybe meet with a few interested groups… and let’s get some feedback,” Hanson told the council.λ