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Davis Journal

Centerville struggles to pay for promised pickleball courts

Oct 09, 2023 02:07PM ● By Linda Peterson

CENTERVILLE—City officials trying to provide pickleball courts for the many residents who love the sport are grappling with some unexpected problems in efforts to make that happen. They’ve been considering the issue for more than a year and finally after much discussion decided on Community Park (1350 North 400 West) for the location. They thought that $500,000 would be sufficient for the project but discovered that with the meteoric rise in construction costs over the last few years and the specialized concrete needed for the courts that figure is way off the mark.

G. Brown Design has been working on preliminary concept plans for the courts and came back with two options which the landscape architects’ representative Mike Wonenberg presented at the Sept. 19 council meeting. However, even the basic concept presented by G. Brown Design, at $1,508,600, is more than three times what city officials expected to pay. Another option which would include restrooms and a storage building would be more than four times what they have budgeted ($1,935,684). And these are just cost estimates at this point.

While several factors led the city council to choose Community Park, the site does have some deficits. A basin on the west side of the park will need to be filled in and graded and a 6-inch water main will need to be rerouted, Wonenberg said.  

Besides the cost there’s another factor the city council has to consider with Community Park. UDOT has plans to widen I-15 in the area and could possibly take some of the park’s west parking lot – something Centerville officials won’t find out for sure for probably three years. As it refines its plans it is looking less likely that UDOT will need to take any of the parking lot, but it is not impossible that agency could still need to do so, City Engineer Kevin Campbell told the council. Both plans anticipate that possibility with a new parking lot on the east side of the park. Also, any landscaping on the west side could be torn up if UDOT has to take footage.

In a prolonged discussion that night the council wrestled with these issues. Councilmember Gina Hirst expressed concern that if UDOT takes some of the property it would leave less green space for team sports.

“If we don’t know what UDOT is doing why are we doing the plan this way?” she asked. “If we don’t know how far they’re coming, how they’re impacting our parking lot, I don’t know if we really want to be putting pickleball courts in because I’d like to see the green grass maximized in this park because every time I drive by it, which is several times a week, all of the areas where we’d put pickleball courts there are kids playing soccer [or] football.”

Mayor Clark Wilkinson agreed.

“Given how UDOT has changed plans on the off ramp and 400 West and Marketplace, they could flip and be coming in and tearing out courts too,” he said.

But some council members felt that waiting for UDOT to produce final plans was not prudent.

“I don’t want to wait on what UDOT may or may not do,” Councilmember George McEwan said. “I’ve lived in Centerville over 20 years now, and all of the beautification that people have been asking for along the frontage road for the last 20 years has not been done because UDOT might expand someday or UDOT might do something. My viewpoint is we do what is best as a city. If their plans impact us at a later date, we put our hand back out and say pay us for the damage you’ve done, and we’ll make the change.”

Another factor at play is a $400,000 grant which the city has applied for from the Land & Water Conservation Fund and which it seems likely to receive, Parks Director Bruce Cox said. That $400,000 was supposed to be 50 percent of the funds needed for two projects – the pickleball courts and redoing the playground at the park – which the city would be required to match. The funds must be disbursed before any other grants can be applied for and the city is likely to lose the grant if it waits, Cox said. When Cox learned of the increased costs estimated for the pickleball courts he went back to Land & Water Conservation Fund officials and asked if he could bump Centerville’s request up to $700,000. He has been told there is “a chance” that could happen, he said. (If those projects get grant funding and go forward, they could be completed by July 4 next summer, he said).

The city does have options to fund the shortfall, City Manager Brant Hanson said: It could dip into its reserve, bond for the project or take out a real property lease as the city did with Island View Park.

The council did not solve any of these issues that evening, eventually deciding to send the two concepts to the parks committee and ask them if they had any suggestions for cost cutting which would not jeopardize the project. λ