Outdoor pickle ball courts proposed

Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor


     The popularity of pickleball, the miniature tennis-like sport played with wooden paddles and a plastic ball, is growing in Monticello.

     It has grown to the point where the city plans to serve up two outdoor pickleball courts on a space near Kleinow Field on Diamond Drive, ready for use in the spring.

     Jacob Oswald, Monticello Parks and Recreation Director, said participation and interest have risen since indoor pickleball was introduced in the Berndes Center this past January.

     “To start with we had about six people who came on a regular basis,” Oswald said. “And by the end of the winter, we probably had, consistently, 14 to 16. We were offering it from 8 (a.m.) to 1 (p.m.), on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and our courts were full that entire time.”

     Some would come just to watch, at first.

     “They would maybe sit there and watch for two or three days, and finally they’d join in and start playing,” he said.

     Citizens began wanting more.

     “People were asking if we’d stay open later, which we are going to try to do this winter, at least once a week,” Oswald said, “We would maybe have it open past 5 o’clock so people who work throughout the day are able to come in and play.

     “But we also had some feedback on wanting to get outside to play.”

     Spurred on by that, and an anonymous donor’s offer to pay for the concrete (about $20,000), the Parks and Recreation Department and City of Monticello began looking for sites.

     Among them were areas near the Monticello Aquatic Center, and Willow Shelter (near Pizza Ranch).

     Still others wondered why one of the tennis courts at Monticello High School couldn’t be converted to two pickleball courts – at 44-by-20 feet, a pickleball court is slightly more than half the size of a standard tennis court.

     Ultimately, however, they decided on the Diamond Drive site in an area just north of the sidewalk that leads to Kleinow Field.

     “There’s a big, grassy area down there, it’s nice and flat, and we really just felt that was an ideal spot,” Oswald said.

     On Aug. 5, the Monticello City Council approved the location and authorized planning for the courts. The total cost of the project is estimated at $29,550, with about half covered by the aforementioned donor.

     There was some discussion first.

     “Why do we need to add two courts?” council member Tom Yeoman asked at the Aug. 5 meeting. “The third (tennis) court is rarely used.”

     Oswald responded: “There are concerns, while school is in session, having outside people on school property. Plus there’s no parking (available) during the day.”

     Council member Dave Goedken added: “It would be cheaper using one of the (current) courts, But we’d need to add fencing and repaint the lines. A pickleball court is different from a tennis court.”

     The proposal still needed to be approved by the Monticello Park Board at its meeting, which was scheduled for Aug. 12, after this paper went to press. Oswald said he expected the Park Board to pass the measure.

     Oswald said the city hopes to at least get the cement work done before winter sets in.

     “(The courts) won’t be ready to go this fall, but we’re hoping by mid-spring next year that we’d be up and running,” he said.

     He added that the department hasn’t determined how to handle equipment needs.

     “We’ve got stuff in here for our winter program,” he said. “We’re not sure how we’ll handle it for outdoors. But it’s pretty inexpensive equipment, quite honestly.”

     Oswald said the indoor pickleball program will start up again in November. And with the addition of outdoor courts next year, he expects participation to continue to grow.

     “It’s a new thing to the area, which is something we’re excited about,” he said. “It’s a great workout, and the rules are pretty easy to grasp once you play it, or sit and watch a couple of times.”

     (Express Editor Kim Brooks also contributed to this article.)




Subscriber Login