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“Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now: The Saga”

Did you know that (as of Spring 2021) there are no official public outdoor pickleball court lines anywhere in Southeast Seattle. None in Beacon Hill, Brighton, Columbia City, Dunlap, Genesee, Hillman City, Lakeridge, Lakewood, Seward Park, Mount Baker, New Holly, North Beacon Hill (both 2 & 3), Othello, Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley, Rainier View, Rainier Vista, or South Beacon Hill. That is, no outdoor pickleball court lines south of Capitol Hill and East of I-5.

We are not even talking about pickleball courts here. We are just talking about painted lines.

In this pickleball desert, some local residents thirsty for some outdoor pickleball have taken it upon themselves to paint pickleball court lines on the public tennis courts at Dearborn Park and Brighton Playfield. Just to be clear: this is neither approved by the Seattle Parks Department nor endorsed by the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association.

It’s not that there is a lack of people wanting to play pickleball in Southeast Seattle. The largest and most diverse community of pickleball players in Seattle has been playing indoors for years at the Rainier Community Center before the pandemic. And the Jefferson Community Center has hosted sizeable pickleball events through the Lifelong Recreation program and through Smash Pickleball for a long time as well.

Now, the Southeast Seattle players have petitioned the Seattle Parks Department to get some public outdoor pickleball court lines. Their story is unfolding. Read all about it by following the links below.

Episode 1: The Petition
Episode 2: Dear Superintendent
Episode 3: Hello!
Episode 4: We are pleased to offer you the least desirable courts
Episode 5: We ask that you reconsider the three requests in our petition and address them one by one
Episode 6: A slap in the face
Episode 7: Greetings Mayor Durkan
Episode 8: Since the mayor asked, the Parks department’s Deputy Superintendent steps in
Episode 9: It is incumbent upon SPR to articulate why it is policy to preserve the interests of one recreational community over another
Episode 10: Why Is SPR Choosing to Treat Southeast Seattle Differently From the Rest of the City?
Episode 11: Please Write
To be continued…

Seattle Indoor Pickleball – Fall 2021

The Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department has resumed indoor “drop-in” pickleball sessions at multiple locations starting in early October 2021. Most locations offer 45-minute long sessions. All locations require advanced reservations and limit the number of players to 4 times the number of pickleball courts available.

Players have had many questions regarding these new drop-in sessions. We are trying to answer some of them here. Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to share your experiences with us.

Q: Were any pickleball players involved in the decision to have 45-minute sessions?

A: We don’t know, but we guess not. The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association was not consulted.

Q: Are other sports limited to 45-minute sessions?

A: Yes. Badminton, basketball, ping-pong and some volleyball seem to suffer the same fate.

Q: Why 45-minute sessions?

A: We can only guess that this is SPR’s way to split large crowds that used to congregate for large amount of times into smaller crowds that congregate for shorter amount of times.

Q: Do other cities around Seattle have the same 45-minute rule?

A: No.

Q: Why do most Seattle locations offer 45-minute pickleball sessions while a few offer longer sessions?

A: We are told that the community centers that offer 45-minute sessions did not have a choice. The decision was made at a higher level. We do not know if the few community centers that have longer sessions are breaking the rules or asked for special dispensations.

Q: Can I sign up for multiple consecutive pickleball sessions?

A: The online system registration system does not allow registering for multiple consecutive sessions. However, at this time, it is usually possible to stay and play the next session because of low attendance. When it rains every day, things will likely change.

Q: I signed up online for a drop-in session that I will not be able to attend. What should I do?

A: There is no way to cancel online. We hear you can call your community center to cancel your registration.

Q: Can I drop-in even if I don’t have a reservation?

A: If the number of reservations for a particular session has not reached the maximum number of players allowed, we do believe that there is a good chance you will be allowed to register on the spot and join in.

We have heard of sessions where all the available spots are reserved by advance registration, but only a few of the registered players actually show up. When unregistered players ask if they can join in, the community center doesn’t know whether to release the reserved spots that are unoccupied. Confusion ensues.

Q: I can’t play 45-minute continuously. I like to take a break between games. If I take a break, what will the other people in my foursome do?

A: There is a good chance that the number of players present won’t be a multiple of four. Some players will have to sit and wait for a turn no matter what.

Q: The Rainier Community Center hosted the most diverse pickleball community before the pandemic. Why does it not offer drop-in pickleball now?

A: This is indeed quite surprising given that the Rainier Community Center currently offers drop-in Hip Hop Spin, Basketball, Bridge, and Tai Chi. The SPR person we were told to contact regarding this is not returning phone calls or emails.

Pre=pandemic pickleball at the Rainier Community Center

Q: Who at SPR decided to have 45-minute pickleball sessions?

A: We don’t know.

Q: Is this how it is going to be for the foreseeable future?

A: Not necessarily. We believe SPR might change the current system if they think of a better way.

Q: How can I give SPR feedback about this new system?

A: You can email PKS_Info@seattle.gov, the official SPR channel for inquiries, compliments, suggestions, complaints, etc.


Three easy things to do today to ask Bellevue Parks for more pickleball courts

  1. Go to the Bellevue Parks and Open Spaces Suggestion Box.
    Give some love to all the pickleball suggestions already posted.
    Add your own.
  2. Go to the Bellevue Parks an Open Spaces Survey, and ask for lighted, covered, dedicated pickleball courts, clustered in groups of 8 or more.
    Or whatever else you would like to see.
  3. Tell all your pickleball friends to do the same.

Action Alert: Shape the future of the Bellevue Parks System

Do you dream of Bellevue having many sets of 6 or 12 dedicated outdoor pickleball courts in its parks system?

During a virtual Neighborhood Leadership Gathering on Thursday, Oct. 7 from 6:30 to 8:00pm, Bellevue Parks and Community Services staff will share the scope of the department’s many assets and services and the purpose of a master plan. You will have opportunities during the evening to share your priorities and dreams for the future of the Bellevue parks system.

RSVP Todayneighborhoodoutreach@bellevuewa.gov

More information: https://bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/community-development/neighborhoods/classes-and-events/neighborhood-leadership-gathering

ACTION ALERT: Last Push for 10 DEDICATED Pickleball Courts in Mercer Island

We have done a great job making ourselves heard so far in the Mercer Island “Parks and Open Space Plan” update process.

Whether we will get new shared tennis/pickleball courts or DEDICATED pickleball courts depends on how much support for DEDICATED pickleball courts we will show at the upcoming Virtual Open House next Tuesday, September 28 at 5:30pm.

Please register today to attend this community meeting on Tuesday.

Thank you!

Pass it on.

Action Alert: Ask for Pickleball Courts in King County Parks

Would you like pickleball courts at Marymoor Park in Redmond, or at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center? Now is the time to ask.

King County is updating its Open Space Plan. This plan will define what park projects King County will undertake in the next 6 years.

They are starting with a customer satisfaction survey. One of the questions is “What are the top 3 things that would most encourage you to use or continue using King County Parks’ parks, trails, and natural areas in the future?” Please answer that you would like “pickleball courts at Marymoor Park, Steve Cox Memorial Park, and at all King County playfields.”

Don’t delay. The survey closes Sunday, September 26.

And please encourage other pickleball players to complete this survey as well.

Ask for More Pickleball Courts in Bellevue

What

Bellevue is starting to update their Parks and Open Space System plan. This plan will set the Parks Department long-term objectives for acquisition, preservation or development of parks, community facilities, trails and open space in Bellevue. To get significantly more outdoor courts, we need it to be included in this plan.

To make your voice heard, you have two main options: Make your case in person during a public hearing on September 14, or write an email that will be entered in the same meeting’s record.

How

In person

The Bellevue Parks & Community Services Board will hold a public hearing during its meeting at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. To be added to the speaker list at the public hearing, please sign-up by 3:00 p.m. on September 14, 2021. Click the following link to sign-up: https://bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/city-clerks-office/public-meetings-speaker-registration/parks-community. If you choose this option, practice your speech and make sure you can be done in three minutes or less.

By Email

You may also email parkboard@bellevuewa.gov with the subject line “Written Communications – September 14 Public Hearing.”

By Snail Mail

Send your letter to:
 Bellevue Parks & Community Services
Attn: Ryan Walker
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009-9012

What Should We Ask?

The Parks and Open Space System Plan is a 20-year plan. If pickleball keeps growing at its present rate, there will be over 10 times as many pickleball players in 20 years. Tell the Parks Department what it needs to do to prepare for this.

Make it personal. If pickleball has changed your life in any significant way, please mention it.

Will This Be Enough?

It will be necessary to show that there is a strong demand for more pickleball courts at this Parks Board hearing. We will need to keep showing the same enthusiasm throughout the entire development process of the new Parks and Open Space System Plan.

More Information

Here is the public hearing announcement, with many more details.

Public hearing to update Parks and Open Space System Plan

If you live, work, or play in Bellevue then we would like to hear from you.  Bellevue Parks and Community Services is updating the city’s Parks and Open Space System Plan, which is the primary tool used to guide the long-term growth and development of Bellevue’s parks, trails, and open space system.  Your feedback is critical to creating a successful plan and helps us understand needs and interests of the community.

You are invited to attend the next meeting of the Bellevue Parks & Community Services Board.  The Board will hold a public hearing during its meeting at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.  The public hearing will be held virtually via Zoom webinar.  Connection information is published on the meeting agenda, available here.

The hearing is an opportunity for City of Bellevue residents and other stakeholders to provide input regarding long-term objectives for acquisition, preservation or development of parks, community facilities, trails and open space in Bellevue.  Your feedback will inform a set of 20-year capital project recommendations, which are reviewed and updated approximately every six years through this plan. 

Comments can be provided in-person at the public hearing or submitted in writing before the public hearing.  To be added to the speaker list at the public hearing, please sign-up by 3:00 p.m. on September 14, 2021. Click the following link to sign-up: https://bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/city-clerks-office/public-meetings-speaker-registration/parks-community.  You may also email parkboard@bellevuewa.gov with the subject line “Written Communications – September 14 Public Hearing.” or by mail to Bellevue Parks & Community Services, Attn: Ryan Walker, P.O. Box 90012, Bellevue, WA 98009-9012.  All written comments received prior to 3 p.m. on September 14, 2021 will be read or summarized into the record at the meeting.  For alternate formats, interpreters (voice or sign language), or reasonable accommodation requests, please phone 425-452-4162 (voice) or email parkboard@bellevuewa.gov at least 48 hours in advance.

Information on the Parks and Open Space System Plan can be found at the following website:  www.bellevuewa.gov/park-plan.htm.  Additional opportunities to engage with this planning effort will be posted at this website as available, including a forthcoming survey in which Bellevue park users are invited to answer questions about how they use parks and what types of parks they would like to see in the future. 

How to Navigate the Fall Middle-School Tennis Season

The local Seattle non-profit Sports in Schools, has partnered with the Seattle parks department and for the 6th year is running a FREE FALL middle school tennis program for 6 weeks twice a week after school at 12 middle school sites all around Seattle.  

Here is a summary that shows the schools and the days and times they will be running programs at tennis courts that have (official and unofficial) pickleball court lines.  This program runs for 6 weeks only and starts the week of 9/13 and ends the week ending 10/22.

  • Brighton Playfields Tennis Courts (Aki Kurose Middle School) – Tues/Thurs  4:15 – 5:45pm
  • Miller Playfield Tennis Courts (Meany Middle School) – Mon 4-5:30pm & Weds 2:45-4:15pm
  • Delridge Playfield Tennis Courts (Pathfinder K-8) – Mon 4-5:30pm & Weds 2:45-4:15pm
  • Bitter Lake Tennis Courts (Broadview-Thomson K-8) – Weds 1:30-2:50pm & Fri 2:45-4:15pm

All of these courts have received permits for these days and times during the 9/13-10/22 timeframe.   

Now you know when NOT to schedule play at these locations.

Pass it on.

Seattle Parks and Recreation wants to hear from you!

What would you like to see in parks, open spaces, & community centers in the coming years?

Seattle Parks asks you to help it plan for pandemic & economic recovery, responding to climate change, and supporting racial equity, by participating in their online open house: https://sprstrategicplan.infocommunity.org/

What does this have to do with pickleball?

They will ask you: Did you or your family use Seattle Parks and Recreation programs and spaces during the pandemic? If so, how did you participate?
Make sure you answer something like the following if it rings true to you:
[X] Other:
I played pickleball on outdoor pickleball courts [x] times a week

They will ask you: Have you experienced barriers when trying to participate in Seattle Parks and Recreation programs?
Make sure you answer something like the following if it rings true to you :
[X] Other:
(1) Indoor pickleball facilities are often overcrowded.
(2) Many outdoor pickleball courts still don’t have pickleball nets.
(3) Why are tennis players allowed to reserve pickleball courts when there are plenty of tennis-only courts available exclusively for them?

They will ask you: What are you or your family most excited about as we move toward reopening our facilities and community spaces? 
Make sure you answer something like the following if it rings true to you :
[X] Other:
Indoor and outdoor pickleball

They will ask you: What types of programming would best support you as Seattle continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic? 
Make sure you answer something like the following if it rings true to you :
[X] Other:
Intro to pickleball classes
Rec’n The Streets pickleball
Drop-in indoor and outdoor pickleball

They will ask you: SPR is interested in improving our feedback loop with communities we serve. How can we better reach you?
Make sure you answer something like the following if it rings true to you :
[X] Other:
The feedback loop is broken. Pickleball players have submitted almost 50 pages of feedback to the Strategic Plan (https://seattlemetropickleball.com/wp-content/pdfs2share/SPR%202020%20Strategic%20Plan%20-%20Citizen%20Feedback%20-%20Pickleball.pdf). How do we know you are listening?

What else do I need to do?

Make sure you click the “Submit” button at the bottom of the survey.

Your Chance to Chat with the Seattle Parks District Oversight Committee and Seattle Board of Park Commissioners

What

Seattle Parks hosts Big Day of Play as a celebration of Seattle’s diversity and it encourages neighbors, communities and families to have fun, build relationships and be active together. It’s the day to play your way! We see this as the perfect day to advocate for pickleball. Read on.

When

This year, the Big Day of Play is taking place Saturday August 21 from noon to 4pm. You don’t have to be there all four hours; gather a group of pickleball friends and drop by when convenient.

Where

The event takes place outdoors at Rainier Playfield, across the street from the Rainier Community Center.

Be sure to look at the four tennis courts located on the playfield, across the street from the Community Center. These courts see very little use throughout the year, yet the Seattle Parks Department refuses to paint pickleball court lines on them. The Rainier Community Center has 6 indoor pickleball courts and historically enjoyed a large, active, and diverse community of pickleball players. Wouldn’t it make sense to paint pickleball court lines on the outdoor tennis courts right across the street from the community center?

Why

This is your chance to talk to the Seattle Parks District Oversight Committee and the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners. These two groups have some oversight of the Parks Department. Several of their members will be present at the Big Day of Play. They will be asking attendees the following questions:
– What is the Seattle Parks Department doing well and should keep doing?
(A: Host a large and diverse pickleball community at the Rainier Community Center. Reach new players through their Rec’n The Streets program.)
– What is the Seattle Parks Department doing poorly and should stop doing?
(A: Seattle Parks only allows pickleball on the least desirable tennis courts. This is redlining and it is time to stop that practice. In particular, stop vetoing painting pickleball court lines on the Rainier Playfield tennis courts.)
– What is the Seattle Parks Department not doing yet that it should start doing?
(A: Allocate court use equitably across tennis and pickleball.)

Tell them to start painting pickleball court lines on the Rainier Playfield tennis courts. The Parks department has already painted, is about to paint or has already recommended painting pickleball lines on most outdoor tennis courts adjacent to community centers in other parts of the city. There is no reason to make an exception with Rainier. And no, this is not a highly used tennis court. Their own data shows that these courts are reserved an average of only 45 minutes a day.

Tell them that the Parks department insists on painting pickleball lines only on the least desirable tennis courts. This is discrimination plain and simple, and has to stop.

Tell them to allocate money to fund pickleball recreation programming and pickleball facilities in their next budget. They are about to allocate a boatload of money to the Parks Department for the next six years. In their first budget cycle, they allocated:
$26,681,070 for Parks and Recreation Operating Expenses, supplementing and expanding the capacity of Seattle Parks and Recreation to serve Seattle residents.
$142,927,236 for Capital Projects, investing in infrastructure and improvement projects for Seattle Parks and Recreation to preserve and maintain Seattle’s park system.
And all that is just a small part of the Parks Department’s total budget.

In their last budget they allocated over to $2,000,000 to tennis for Amy Yee Tennis Center upgrades and for drainage improvements at the Laurelhurst Playfield outdoor tennis courts. In that same budget, they allocated $0 to pickleball recreation programming and $0 to pickleball facilities.

Tell them that it is not acceptable to fund tennis and leave pickleball unfunded.

In Summary

  • Come to Rainier Playfield on Saturday August 21 anytime between noon and 4pm.
  • Find the Seattle Parks District Oversight Committee members and the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners. They will likely sport name tags that will make it easy to identify them. Other pickleball players will help you in your search.
  • Tell them to paint pickleball court lines on the Rainier Playfield tennis courts.
  • Tell them that the Parks Department practice of painting pickleball lines only on the least desirable tennis courts is discrimination that must end.
  • Tell them to allocate money to fund pickleball recreation and facilities in their next budget. And it is no longer acceptable to fund tennis and leave pickleball unfunded.
  • Make it personal: Tell them how pickleball has affected your life.
  • Grab a group of friends to come with you if you can. If not, don’t worry: you will recognize others from the pickleball community when you get there.

Please tell all your pickleball friends.

See you there!

SMPA August Update

Hi Friends,

One of the things I want to do as president of SMPA is spend some time writing on this page to give you updates and visibility into some of the things the Board and other folks are working on. Well, here it is 3 months since I took this role and I haven’t posted a thing. We have a lot of catching up to do. It’s been a busy 90 days and there’s a lot happening both on the courts and off.

First off, I want to thank and congratulate everyone involved with the recent Seattle Metro Pickleball Classic. That includes the tournament organizing committee, the volunteer captains, the hundreds of volunteers and all the players and spectators that made the weekend so extraordinary. If you haven’t seen Kyle Yate’s glowing review of the tournament in The Dink newsletter it’s a great read and a testament to how special this area is and can be for pickleball. Besides Yates, some of the biggest names in the sport came to play, reigning U.S. Open Champion Callie Smith was here, as was Steve Deacon, Erik Lang, and Seattle’s own Lindsey Newman. We had local legends and Hall of Famers Mark Friedenberg and Fran Myer play and participate. ProPickleball was here to stream the Open matches. We received local news coverage on KING-5 TV, and sports anchor Chris Eagan, a pickleball fanatic just like you and me, played in the Pro Men’s event.

The SMPC is the signature event of our calendar year, but it’s more than just a tournament. It’s a showcase for local governments and area businesses to see first-hand the growth of the sport and how it can draw tourists from the entire region and beyond to come visit and spend money. It’s a signal to Parks and Rec departments the need for more courts, and to demonstrate that an investment in pickleball courts can not only sustain itself but meet and exceed their missions of enabling health and fitness to a diverse set of citizens. We all have a lot to be proud of and I’m already excited about next year’s tournament. Let the countdown begin!

Speaking of getting more courts, let’s talk about the South East Seattle saga that Miguel de Campos has been chronicling on this page and other exchanges with SPR regarding pickleball matters. I don’t need to get into the details since Miguel captures it all, but I do want you to know how I see SMPA’s role in driving this, and other discussions about pickleball, forward. I’ll start with yet another thank you to all of our members, and non-members, who wrote or called SPR representatives and other government officials to voice their opinion about the South East Seattle courts and the Green Lake resurfacing project. In an email to one of our members, Laurie Dunlap from the SPR Superintendents office called the pickleball-related correspondence they’ve received “overwhelming.” I bet it is! Let’s keep it up. Just remember to be polite and respectful. SMPA will continue to work directly with SPR in trying to change policy and practices that discriminate against pickleball players. We recognize that SPR’s job isn’t easy. They have a lot of different groups they need to deal with and serving the historically underserved is rightfully their highest priority. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for the decisions they make and the processes they put in place to make them. When battling against bureaucracy it pays to be persistent and patient. We will continue to use our strength in numbers to be a voice for pickleball players and push for more access to courts and more opportunities to play in the Metro area.

Meanwhile our work continues in other areas. SMPA has recently worked with a group of players to fund four new Douglas semi-permanent nets for the Bitter Lake courts and another group has raised money to purchase four more at Green Lake and one at Shoreline Park. You can now find these nets all over the metro area, in Shoreview Park in Shoreline, Walt Hundley Playfield and Delridge Park in West Seattle, and in Miller Park on Capitol Hill. If your group would like to raise funds for semi-permanent nets at your park, reach out to us at info@seattlemetropickleball.com. We can help by setting up a portal for tax-deductible donations and purchasing the nets for you once the money is raised. Thanks also to the volunteers who help assemble them once they arrive.

And whether you’re looking for ways to improve your game, play more competitively, or just looking for some open rec play, several SMPA members (and Directors) are teaching or organizing different play events around town. On Mondays you’ll find our Vice President Theresa Haynie leading a women’s group in skills and drills at Shoreview park. SMPA member Fielding Snow has organized drill sessions with play twice a week also at Shoreview. Several members, led by Director Sarah Webb, are helping SPR teach the game to beginners at Bitter Lake.  And yours truly runs a round robin tournament for more advanced players there on Saturdays. Former Director Sean Oldridge continues to organize open rec play at Green Lake every weekend. SMPA helps these groups by reserving courts for longer chunks of time than an individual might be able to. For example, SMPA reserves all six pickleball courts at Green Lake every Saturday and Sunday for the entire summer. Sean takes donations every weekend and pays SMPA back over time. Reserving courts in big chunks demonstrates real revenue opportunity for SPR and illustrates in a measurable way the growing demand for pickleball. If you need some help organizing similar events in your area, reach out to us at info@seattlemetropickleball.com

I told you we had a lot of catching up to do! But I’ll stop there for now. If you’re reading this and you’re not an SMPA member, please consider joining our group. We’re not a club, just a group of players looking to advocate and advance the sport as best we can. If you have any questions or suggestions for me directly you can reach me at president@seattlemetropickleball.com.

We’ll talk again soon, until then…

Paddles up!

Frank