Seattle Needs More Pickleball Courts
The Seattle Parks Departments' Lifelong Recreation (LLR) Division provides recreational activities for citizens over 50 years old.
The Lifelong Recreation Advisory Council (LLRAC) advises the LLR about programs, policies, and financial issues.
In mid-November, LLRAC sent the following letter to the mayor, the heads of the Park District Board and the Parks' Recreation Department, and the Parks Superintendent. .
From: Joyce Moty
Subject: Seattle needs more pickleball courts
Date: November 12, 2020 at 9:33:32 AM PST
To: Lorena Gonzalez
Cc: Jenny Durkan, Jesús Aguirre, Justin Cutler
RE: Seattle Needs More Pickleball Courts
Dear Councilmember Gonzalez:
The Lifelong Recreation Programs Advisory Council, advocate for recreational programs for people 50+ to 101, asks that you revise the 2021 budget to include allocations of monies for Restoration of Sports Courts, for the years 2021-2026, in the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) budget, in order to address the needs for recreation opportunities that maintain a healthy and engaged citizenry.
The pandemic has affected the recreational activities of Seattle residents, especially seniors, who may feel isolated. Outdoor activities such as pickleball could make a big difference in the lives of seniors. Park staff and volunteers worked with Dr. Sarah Webb to draft Rules for Safe Return of Pickleball Play.
At a minimum, lines for outdoor pickleball courts could be painted on tennis courts, as specified in Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Pickleball Pilot Project Report. The costs of painting pickleball Iines is modest, several hundred dollars per court. This short term solution could be achieved for limited capital outlay and provide additional venues to relieve the overcrowding that presently exists for dozens of Seattle residents.
Pickleball is immensely popular in Seattle, and the demand for playing courts is high, as demonstrated in the SPR survey for the 12-year Strategic Plan. Seniors have shown their passion and support for pickle ball by writing letters and testifying at Parks board meetings.
Please allocate funds for the Restoration of Sports Courts for 2021 to 2026 in the Seattle Parks and Recreation budget, which specifically includes capital expenses for lining more tennis courts with pickleball Iines.
Lifelong Recreation Programs Advisory Council
Joyce Moty, President
Beryl Schulman, Vice-president
David Ward, Treasurer
Debbie Zemke and Dan Christopher, Secretary
Fall 2020 Seattle Outdoor Pickleball Permits
John Hasslinger, SPR Southwest
Representative, succeeded in getting our
summer outdoor pickleball court reservations extended until
Thank you, John!
If you need to show the corresponding permits click on the links below:
Spring 2020 SMPA Directors Election Results
At the April 2, 2020 close of voting for the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) Board of Directors, SMPA voting members approved the Board-recommended slate. Returning for additional terms are Miguel de Campos, Theresa Haynie, and SMPA President Jerry Kindinger.
We welcome three new directors, Kiersten Bacon (Edmonds), Mary Ann Benack (Seattle), and Jeff Jolly (West Seattle). Join us in welcoming the new directors. We are grateful for their willingness to serve, and expect to make good use of their energy and skills.
How many pickleball courts in Seattle? - December 2019
Your Seattle Metro Pickleball Association sent the following letter to the Seattle Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan team on December 13th.
To: Seattle Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cc: Seattle Board of Park Commissioners (Rachel.Acosta@seattle.gov); Seattle Park District Oversight Committee (email@example.com)
Subject: SPR offers 145 dedicated tennis courts and 0 dedicated pickleball courts
Dear Seattle Parks and Recreation Strategic Planners,
The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association reviewed with great interest
the November 6 draft version of the Seattle Parks and Recreation 2019
We were quite disturbed to see on page 6 of the plan,
in the “What we offer” section, that you chose to state that you
currently offer 140 outdoor tennis courts and 93 pickleball courts,
without any further explanation. Here is the blurb in question:
While that statement might be factually correct as it pertains to tennis courts, it is completely misleading as it will make readers think that you currently offer roughly equivalent access to tennis and pickleball facilities, while in fact tennis playing opportunities greatly exceed pickleball playing opportunities as demonstrated in the following table.
|Outdoor||125 dedicated tennis courts||0 dedicated pickleball courts|
|15 tennis courts shared with pickleball players.||28 pickleball courts shared with tennis players, tennis teams, tennis instructors, tennis camps.|
|Nets provided.||Nets rarely provided. Players need to bring and install their own pickleball net - an equity issue.|
|Only 2 to 4 adjacent pickleball courts offered at any one venue, which is contrary to the social aspect of the sport.|
|Indoor||20 dedicated tennis courts||0 dedicated pickleball courts|
|62 mostly badminton courts in multi-sport indoor gyms. (Badminton court lines only approximate pickleball court lines.)|
|Over 2200 indoor tennis court hours per week available 7 days a week from early morning until late at night||About 320 indoor pickleball court hours a week available mostly Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm|
This comparison provides a more accurate accounting of the generosity of facilities provided on behalf of tennis versus the paucity of actual pickleball courts.
We respectfully ask that you update the next draft of the Strategic Plan to make it unambiguously clear to the readers that you currently offer 145 dedicated tennis courts and 0 dedicated pickleball courts.
The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association Board of Directors
On December 19th, we received the following reply:
From: PKS_SPRStrategicPlan <PKS_SPRStrategicPlan@seattle.gov>
Cc: Acosta, Rachel <Rachel.Acosta@seattle.gov>; McElroy, Shanyanika <Shanyanika.McElroy@seattle.gov>
Subject: RE: SPR offers 145 dedicated tennis courts and 0 dedicated pickleball courts
Dear Seattle Metro Pickleball Association Board of Directors,
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your thoughts. We agree that we could be clearer in our Strategic Plan about how we describe pickleball courts vs. pickleball access. The 93 court figure is our inventory of all spaces, indoor and outdoor, where pickleball can be played throughout our system. However, to your comment, we will update that section of the Strategic Plan to read “37 outdoor courts lined for pickleball” to have greater comparability with the outdoor tennis court figure. In addition to the 33 outdoor courts listed on your website here: https://seattlemetropickleball.com/Courts.html, in fall 2019 SPR lined 4 additional courts at Walt Hundley Playfield.
We are excited to celebrate the strides the department has made in expanding access to this growing sport. We agree that there is still more growth we would like to do, but we also want to celebrate the wins when we get them.
We look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.
All the best,
Selena (on behalf of the Strategic Planning team)
Selena Elmer (she/her/hers)
Strategic Advisor, Superintendent’s Office
City of Seattle, Seattle Parks and Recreation
To go from the 28 courts that we counted to the 37 courts that SPR counts, you have to include both (1) pickleball courts that have been lined on tennis courts without SPR approval and (2) pickleball courts that are dangerous or inadequate.
Should we assume that the city is now endorsing citizen painting pickleball lines on tennis courts?
The Hing Hay Park "pickleball court"
is a perfect example of a court
that is both dangerous and inadequate.
It is located in a high pedestrian traffic area, but provides no fence to separate players from non-players.
It also has concrete planters located very close to some edges of the court. Obviously, whoever designed this assumed that you all play pickleball "within the lines".
We could find this court more faults, but this should suffice to convince anyone with a minimum of knowledge of pickleball that this "court", while pretty, is not adequate for pickleball play.
Similarly, it is our view that the Kinnear Park, Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, Montlake Playfield and South Park courts should be excluded from the count.
Why are we having this lovely exchange with the Seattle Parks Department? Because we deserve to have a fair representation of the Department's current state of support for pickleball for all to see. We believe that the current draft instead misleads readers into thinking that the Parks Department already supports pickleball in a manner comparable to tennis. And if readers think that everything is already wonderful for pickleball players, why would they support improvements and changes to the current state of affairs?
Greater Seattle Area Court News - December 2019
Pay to Play
Starting in January 2020, you will have to pay to play pickleball at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center. This is because pickleball there happens in the morning before the center officially opens at noon. Since Seattle Parks &Rec (SPR) department has decided to stop funding all drop-in activities that previously took place outside of community center normal operating hours, the options offered were to (1) start charging, (2) move pickleball to the afternoon if the gym is available, or (3) cancel pickleball. Unfortunately, extending the operating hours to the morning was not among the options given. The Ravenna-Eckstein staff opted for option #1.
Rumor has it that Hiawatha's Friday pickleball will also become pay-to-play starting January 2020. Check with the community center staff to confirm.
The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) requested that SPR ask players to pay each time they come play as is done in most other cities, but the Parks Department chose instead to ask players to prepay $33 to get access to Monday pickleball at Ravenna-Eckstein during the winter, plus $33 if you want to play Wednesdays and/or $33 for Fridays. The fee at Hiawatha will probably be $36.
Want more pickleball? Rent a gym!
The official word from the Seattle Parks Department’s Recreation Division Director, Justin Cutler (firstname.lastname@example.org), regarding indoor pickleball is still that the Parks Department is not going to provide more indoor pickleball in 2020. If you want more indoor pickleball, you should create a league or other organization that rents community center gyms when they are available and charge players accordingly. Without going into too much detail, there is one business doing just that, and they end up having to charge participants about $15 per hour of pickleball. SMPA asked that pickleball players be treated more like Seattle tennis players who pay a court fee when they choose to play at either of the two indoor tennis centers
For 2021, SPR is considering additional hours at the community centers for all court sports, including pickleball. This is a result of the Parks’ upcoming new 12-year strategic plan, according to Justin Cutler.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that some Seattle community center directors are happy to see their gyms used by pickleball players rather than sit empty. If your community center offers more pickleball than expected, make sure you that you express your appreciation to the staff.
Want more pickleball? Build your own facility!
Yep. That’s what they said. And that is probably what will happen eventually. Probably outside of Seattle. Around these parts, it’s pickleball for the well-to-do.
Welcome Athletics Coordinators!
The Lifelong Recreation unit of the Seattle Parks Department has been hosting citywide indoor pickleball program management for many years. We are told that starting on the first day of January 2020, this task will be transferred to the athletics coordinators. That is all we know so far on the subject, and don’t know how it will affect the pickleball skills and intro classes offered by Lifelong Recreation.
Drop-in and wait
It is not unusual for players to have to spend more time waiting than playing in several Seattle community centers. It gets to the point that some players leave rather than deal with the wait. We don’t expect this to get any better soon. Maybe when the SPR Community Center digital check-in system is finally in place, we will be allowed to see which locations have fewer players so we can adjust where we choose to play.
Since pickleball’s popularity is growing rapidly nationwide, the greater Seattle area population is growing faster than the national average, and the greater Seattle area senior population is growing even faster. That means you can expect this situation to get significantly worse every year unless something changes.
Notably, Edmonds limits the number of pickleball players to 20 per session at the Frances Anderson Center. That is common in our Canadian neighbors’ Rec Centers, for example Surrey and Pitt Meadows in BC. Of course, our Canadian friends have 6 to 8 indoor courts, too.
Rainier Community Center, November 5th, 2019
Bellevue, Kirkland, Edmonds
While Seattle put the brakes on indoor pickleball, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Edmonds are pressing the accelerator:
- Bellevue now offers free indoor pickleball at the Crossroads Community Center.
- Kirkland started offering indoor pickleball at the North Kirkland Community Center.
- Edmonds is increasing its offering of indoor pickleball at the Frances Anderson Center.
First, they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you, saying that pickleball is for old folks.
Then they get mad at you for creatively repurposing underused facilities so you can play pickleball.
Then they paint pickleball lines on some tennis courts.
Then they provide pickleball nets to go with the pickleball lines.
Then they create dedicated pickleball courts.
As explained in that article, Seattle’s Pickleball Pilot Study report recommends two sites to be considered for dedicated pickleball courts: Cowen Park and Magnuson Park.
Since this article was published, Seattle Parks Department has issued a first draft of its upcoming 12-year Strategic Plan .
We want to thank all of you who took the time to advocate for pickleball by attending the numerous Seattle Parks outreach programs, such as the “Parks & Rec Fests” in June 2019 and by engaging on social media where you were asked endlessly for your big ideas. Due to your efforts and perseverance, this first draft says that the Parks Department will “get the most out of our current parks and facilities by converting single-use spaces into multi-functional spaces in order to serve more people within our system, including converting tennis courts into multi-sport courts, adding additional paved pathways, and updating parks to meet changing community needs.” Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t specify how they will convert tennis courts into multi-sport courts, and the devil is in the details. We can only hope it will result in good things for pickleball players.
Things are moving fast at the Shoreline Parks Department. A year ago, they offered no pickleball courts. Last summer they painted lines for six pickleball courts on two tennis courts at Shoreview Park. We hear they will line more tennis courts for pickleball play at the Shoreline Park this coming spring. These new courts will be lighted so as to allow for evening play.
Auburn, Bellevue, Edmonds, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish
Meanwhile, Auburn, Bellevue, Edmonds, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish all have dedicated pickleball courts. If you haven’t made your way to Kirkland to enjoy the dedicated pickleball courts just off 405 and 85th at Everest Park, get there. Play continues through the winter, barring ice and snow. That’s just how we roll where pickleball is concerned.
Gig Harbor Pickleball News
There is great summer outdoor pickleball play in Gig Harbor at Sehmel Homestead Park. This nicely outfitted park, with clean restrooms and plenty of parking, is a local pickleball haven. South Sound Pickleball Club welcomes players of all abilities and good sportsmanship to play on their 9 pickleball courts, with permanent lines painted on multi-use basketball and tennis courts.
Regular Saturday morning Open Play starts about 9:30 AM to whenever, with many players also coming out on Sunday mornings. They started officially on June 8, 2019 and will keep this schedule, weather permitting, to mid September. They have different levels of play at various courts, but anyone is welcome to go to any court. There is at least one challenge court, with a second as needed.
New this summer, they are starting at 8:30 AM with drill practice for about an hour. During this time, you can expect to be switching players so that folks can get to know and play with different players. Also, anyone wanting to practice refereeing is encouraged to do so. The club will provide the score sheets and other items for referees.
To help pay for the Saturday reservations, they are asking players to donate $25, which in addition to the reservation fees that they have to pay in advance, will pay for Onix outdoor balls, some fruit, water and use of nets and other equipment. Please get with Ken or Miok at the courts on the weekends. Hope to see you all there!
Pickleball Station is hiring!
Love pickleball and want to share your knowledge? Interested in trying the hottest new products?
If so, Pickleball Station is seeking a new employee to work their Pro Shop. Duties include selling and informing customers about the 100+ paddles they carry, answering questions about the game, and demoing gear with visitors on their courts. On-the-job training is provided in regards to product knowledge, however they are looking for at least a 3.0 level player so that customers will have an easy time demoing paddles. Availability requirements are Friday through Sunday, hours to be determined. Some availability during weekdays is preferred. You can contact Pete with your resume and brief cover letter if interested.
Mercer Island Pickleball News
Ball Change - Given that the new batch of ONIX Fuse yellow pickleballs has been breaking after only one or two days of play, MICEC will return them to the seller and buy the traditional green JUGS balls for our use. Obviously, if anyone one wants to bring out their own Franklin or ONIX Fuse pickleballs to play with at MICEC they are welcomed to do so.
Pickleball on Sundays returned to MICEC on June 2, 2019, thanks to a $20,000 grant from King County (Get Active Stay Active) which will be used to partially restore recreation and community programs that were eliminated due to the recent failure of the City of Mercer Island operating levy. Part of this grant allowed for restoring Pickleball on Sundays at MICEC (1:00 PM– 4:00 PM, Full Gym). Bring your paddles and ~$5 if you are not a Mercer Island resident.
LUTHER BURBANK TENNIS COURTS - Cracks were filled and the tennis nets set up at the three courts down at Luther Burbank Park. However, there are no current plans to paint/tape pickleball lines on the tennis courts. As we do understand that there is interest in this enhancement, our team currently doesn’t have capacity to add lines. This is an issue that will be addressed through Mercer Island Parks Recreation and Open Space Plan, which will be a 6 year comprehensive plan that will address future program and capital enhancements and will lay out a set of priorities for our department. This plan will have extensive public input and would be the best place to drive support for any park additions or enhancements.
Updates from Ravenna Eckstein Court Project
The final DESIGN PHASE steps are to conduct two open house format viewings of the final design, and associated construction documents and estimated costs. All are invited to drop in to either one to see and understand the current status of this project. Stay as long as you need, or drop by for 5 minutes. Both meetings are an open house format. Please drop in at either location, any time during the designated times. Two Library branches are the meeting locations (Not at Eckstein MS), both have some limited, free parking.
- Meeting 1 - May 7th (Tuesday) Green Lake Library branch meeting room ( 4:00 - 5:30 PM )
- Meeting 2 - May 8th (Wednesday) Northeast Library Branch meeting room ( 5:30 - 6:30 PM)
They are transitioning from Design to construction planning and funding - and this project is looking for its next group of stewards. It seems a good time to bring in a new leadership team, more closely tied to the Eckstein MS community. Kathy Schmidtke is no longer a parent of a current EMS student, and believe current parents, more closely connected to the school, its events and activities are better suited to promote this project into the next phase. She started this in 2017, and its time to pass the baton.
Many construction variables exist regarding the court surface repair process and final coating, fence repair vs. replacement. Cost estimates exist for a basic version, and a deluxe solution with associated costs from $ 40K - $ 80K. The next leadership team will need to determine what scale of fundraising is feasible and possible in the current climate of public grant funding availability. The next DON grant application date is September 2019. Partners: The Seattle Schools Self Help team (Operations) remains committed to support this project into the next phase. Seattle Parks Foundation continues to be our fiscal sponsor and is available to consult on the next phase of fundraising. Please feel free to submit any questions to: email@example.com and more importantly, they need more folks to attend one of the meetings on 5/7 or 5/8/19 and sign in to help us meet the public process requirement for their grant from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON).
You can join the mailing list by texting the keyword: EMSpickleball to 22828 and an automated reply will ask them to enter an email address. Also, look for the Facebook group: Pickleball at Eckstein MS (NE Seattle)
Seattle Parks and SMPA working committee
What they've said
The Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) pickleball pilot project led by the Planning and Development Division ended October 31, 2018. The study included the striping of multiple pilot sites across the city, site visits, input from players, staff and community members via meetings, emails and an online survey. SPR received substantial feedback about the pickleball community’s excitement and gratitude for the pilot program. There was also a great deal of desire expressed for dedicated pickleball courts. A report will be available in January 2019.
SPR will be working internally to determine next steps that include assessing the potential for additional court striping projects and the feasibility of dedicated courts.