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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!

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News

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 

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News

Member Play Day is August 15th, 2021

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News

“Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now: The Saga” – EPISODE 11

Please write

Recap: On July 15, the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Department’s Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams wrote that (1) it is SPR’s policy to add pickleball lines only to the tennis courts that historically get low usage by tennis players and (2) that adding pickleball court lines to the tennis courts located next to the Jefferson and Rainier Community Centers would constitute a “change of use to parks or park facilities” which would require an opaque and cumbersome review process. On August 1, Seattle Metro Pickleball Association President Frank Chiappone sent the Association’s reply.

On August 3rd, the Southeast Pickleball players called for pickleball players to express their opposition (1) to SPR’s newest policy of allowing pickleball only on the worst tennis courts, and (2) to SPR’s policy of adding pickleball court lines to tennis courts adjacent to community centers that host pickleball communities everywhere EXCEPT in Southeast Seattle. Below is their call to action.

Friends,

 

As you know we have petitioned the Seattle Parks department asking (among other things) that they paint pickleball court lines on the outdoor tennis courts adjacent to the Jefferson and Rainier Community Centers.

After much hesitation , Seattle Parks’ Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams is now saying that they want to paint pickleball court lines only on Southeast Seattle’s least desirable tennis courts and that adding pickleball lines on the Jefferson and Rainier courts would constitute a change in facility programming that would necessitate a long and complicated review process .   Even though Seattle Parks already has already or is about to line tennis courts for pickleball near many community centers that host pickleball programs (Bitter Lake, Delridge, Green Lake, High Point/Walt Hundley, Meadowbrook, Miller, Magnolia, South Park) , when it comes to Southeast Seattle community centers, they refuse to do the same.



Please write to the Seattle Parks Deputy Superintendent (Christopher.Williams@seattle.gov)  and the mayor (Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov) to express your frustration with Seattle Parks refusal to paint pickleball court lines at Jefferson and Rainier.   Send us a copy as well at SouthEastSeattlePickleball@gmail.com, so we have a record.

If you need some inspiration here is Nathan King’s reply to Christopher Williams’ email

To Christopher Williams, Deputy Superintendent
Cc. SMPA, Andy Sheffer Planning and Development Division Director

Greetings Christopher,

Thank you for this reply. I understand why SPR prefers to work with community groups and their representatives and I would guess most members of the pickleball community would prefer this as well. However, your response highlights many of the very reasons why I, and many others, have lost faith in this arrangement. I ask you consider the following:

1.       It is unreasonable to ask the public to funnel feedback through community organizations such as the SMPA when SPR has not in good faith included this organization fully and transparently in all phases of decision making related to equitable use of city courts. I demand the SMPA receives equal representation to that which the tennis community receives via the Amy Yee Tennis Center and its representatives. Otherwise, asking the public to not provide direct feedback to SPR is for the convenience of SPR only.

2.       You mentioned the 16 new courts planned for Southeast Seattle. The fact that you mention this as a gesture of SPR good faith effort to respond to community feedback is tone-deaf and emblematic of many of the issues being raised. A petition with almost 800 signatures addressed why the courts selected for dual-lines in Southeast Seattle are unacceptable and inequitable. By trumpeting this effort on your part reflects either that you, and/or SPR in general are ignorant to this vociferous public feedback, or have simply chosen to ignore it. Pickleball players are asking for quality, not just quantity.

3.       SPR fear of displacing tennis players is just unfair. It is incumbent upon SPR to articulate why it is policy to preserve the interests of one recreational community over another. Currently, tennis players have access to hundreds of tennis courts all around the city. These include the best faculties described as having lights, restrooms, parking newer surfaces, high court capacity, etc. Many of these courts are designated as “tennis only” courts by policy, or de facto owing to lack of pickleball court lines. The SPR plan to designate some courts for dual-lines is in itself inequitable since even these courts are lined in a manner that under utilizes the potential court capacity for pickleball, and uses diminished line color – again for the benefit of tennis. As a result of your desire to prevent “displacement” of tennis players, you have hundreds of displaced pickleball players every weekend crowding the few courts that exist while tennis courts sit empty.

4.       Equity. SPR policy believes it is okay to designate courts for pickleball that are being under utilized by tennis players. In fact, the pilot study even suggests that underutilization of courts be determined by “high instances of graffiti and vandalism.” Once again, please articulate how you believe this is equitable? Why do you think these courts are underutilized by tennis players? Fair sharing of court facilities means EITHER dual-lining ALL courts in the city starting with the MOST desirable, OR equitably designating courts for either dedicated tennis or pickleball. The reason, I believe this is an equity issue is that USTA tennis, despite efforts to the contrary, has historically been a sport predominantly enjoyed by the most affluent and privileged segments of our city. This is apparent in the continued power and influence this recreational community has within SPR as there is no other way to explain why such a clear bias exists.

5.       Finally, you mentioned a community feedback process by the end of the summer. I will offer my input to my SMPA representatives to not participate in any further meetings with SPR until these core inequities are addressed. I will also advocate to my fellow pickleball community members to not participate in any public feedback sessions with SPR, as this would only be used to legitimize the practice of SPR to ignore public feedback and continue the practice of non-transparent and inequitable decisions making. Instead, I will advocate for legal action opportunities.

As a resident of Southeast Seattle, and individual member of the community, I ask that you address these concerns as a starting point to any plans moving forward.

Thank you.

Nathan King

 

Here is the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association’s reply:

From: Frank Chiappone
Sent: Sunday, August 1, 2021 4:33 PM
To: Williams, Christopher <
Christopher.Williams@seattle.gov >; NATHAN KING
Cc: PKS_Info <
PKS_Info@seattle.gov >; Sheffer, Andy < Andy.Sheffer@seattle.gov >;
Subject: RE: Recreational Equity SE Seattle [pickleball]

 

Dear Deputy Superintendent Williams,

 

Thank you for seeking input from the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) regarding the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department’s plan to finally add pickleball court lines to some of the outdoor tennis courts in Southeast Seattle (south of Capitol Hill and East of I-5). 

 

SMPA is delighted to hear that after adding lines for over 40 outdoor pickleball courts on existing tennis courts in 10 different locations outside of Southeast Seattle, SPR is now getting close to start painting its first pickleball court lines on some of Southeast Seattle’s outdoor tennis courts.

 

SMPA fully supports SPR’s policy to make significant changes to facility programming only with broad public engagement and support. 

 

Given that:

  • SPR has already added pickleball lines on tennis courts near existing community centers that host pickleball player communities, such as Delridge, High Point, Miller, Bitter Lake, South Park and Green Lake;
  • SPR has already scheduled the work to add pickleball lines on tennis courts near the Magnolia Community Center which also hosts an active pickleball player community;
  • SPR has recommended in its Pickleball Pilot Study Report that pickleball lines be added on tennis courts near the Meadowbrook Community Center which hosts pickleball players;
  • SPR has recommended in its Pickleball Pilot Study Report that pickleball lines be added on tennis courts near Southeast Seattle’s Rainier Community Center which hosts the largest and most diverse pickleball player community in the entire city;
  • The Pickleball Pilot Study Report has been approved by the Superintendent;
  • SPR’s Strategic Plan states that SPR 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, ,,,”;
  • SPR’s Strategic Plan has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Park Commissioners, the City Council’s Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, and probably the Seattle Council;
  • Southeast Seattle’s Rainier, Jefferson and Van Asselt Community Centers host large, vibrant, and diverse pickleball player communities

SPR’s recently announced plan of adding pickleball court lines on Southeast Seattle tennis courts that are located nowhere near the community centers hosting the local pickleball communities is departing from the de facto policy of locating most pickleball court lines near the community centers that host pickleball players. We must question why SPR is choosing to treat Southeast Seattle differently from the rest of the city.  

 

You say that “the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners needs to weigh in on any change of use to parks or park facilities”. We would like to point out that SPR has already painted pickleball court lines on over 20 tennis courts, and is planning to paint lines on at least 14 more, without seeking Board of Park Commissioners approval.

 

We are concerned with SPR’s most recent focus on allowing pickleball only on tennis courts that see little usage by tennis players, without considering why some tennis courts see more usage than others.  High usage correlates with court features such as:

  • the current state of the court surface
  • the proximity of available parking lots which is even more important for pickleball players than tennis players since pickleball players often need to bring their own net,
  • water fountain availability,
  • restroom availability,
  • perceived safety,
  • light availability for evening play,
  • etc.

By allowing pickleball players only on the courts least used by tennis players, you are effectively restricting pickleball players to the least desirable courts and reserving the most desirable courts for tennis players. This is discrimination. We welcome any opportunity to speak directly to the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners, Seattle Parks and Recreation, City Council or any other civic leader that can help us immediately address and correct these concerns.  

 

Consequently, given the precedent set with other pickleball court lining projects already finished, currently scheduled, or recommended by SPR in other parts of the city, we request that SPR add pickleball court lines to the tennis courts at Rainier Playfield as recommended in SPR’s Pickleball Pilot Study Report and at one of the two of the following locations:

  • Jefferson Park
  • Rainier Beach Playfield

 

Sincerely,

 

Frank Chiappone

SMPA President

 

Do you still need more inspiration?  How about this?



 

 

Dear Christopher Williams,

 

The graphs above show the inequities of Pickleball courts in the Seattle area especially for Southeast.  I also would like to say that both Jefferson Park and Rainier Park in the Southeast  are public parks not private parks for tennis only.  

 

I want to know why Southeast pickleball players are not given equal treatment as tennis players for use of tennis courts?  Why are the tennis courts designated “for tennis players only”?  Tennis players have the best courts to play on, i.e. Jefferson Park and Rainier Park in Southeast Seattle.  

Seattle Parks plan to allow pickleball players to play only on courts that tennis players would not consider using because they are old rundown courts, i.e. Beacon Hill Park and Dearborn Park with grass growing up onto the tennis courts, no bathroom facility available no parking and unsafe.

How can pickleball players be displacing tennis players?  Southeast Seattle pickleball players don’t even have decent courts to play on.

Pickleball lines could very easily be painted onto the existing courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park to utilize the potential court capacity for pickleball.

Why can’t tennis players share the courts with pickleball players?

I agree with Nathan King that SPR must address these issues to make things between tennis and pickleball sooner than later!

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Or this:

Dear Superintendent Williams,

 

The Seattle Parks Department has already or is already planning to add pickleball court lines to the outdoor tennis courts adjacent to most of the community centers that host sizeable communities of pickleball players, except for the two that are located in Southeast Seattle: the Jefferson and Rainier community centers. It is totally unacceptable for the Parks Department to treat the Southeast Seattle residents differently than residents in other parts of the city. 


I also strongly object to your current plan of adding pickleball court lines only on the least desirable outdoor tennis courts in Southeast Seattle.

 

The Jefferson and Rainier community centers host one of the largest and most diverse pickleball player communities in the city. Please allow them to use the outdoor tennis courts adjacent to these two community centers.

 

Sincerely,

 

Please take two minutes to write to Seattle Parks’ Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams ( Christopher.Williams@seattle.gov ) and cc the mayor (Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov ), to let them know that it is completely unacceptable for the Parks Department to treat Southeast Seattle pickleball players differently than players in other parts of the city. Send us a copy as well at SouthEastSeattlePickleball@gmail.com, so we have a record. And send a copy to all your pickleball friends to encourage them to write as well.

Nothing is going to change unless we all pitch in.

Thank you!

 

P.S.: Saturday August 21 from noon to 4pm, some of the Seattle Park District Oversight Committee members and some of the Board of Park Commissioners will be at Rainier Playfield looking to interact with the public to find out what the Parks Department should continue doing, start doing and stop doing. Mark your calendars.  More to follow.

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News

“Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now: The Saga” – EPISODE 10

Why Is SPR Choosing to Treat Southeast Seattle Differently From the Rest of the City?

On July 15, the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Department’s Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams wrote that (1) it is SPR’s policy to add pickleball lines only to the tennis courts that historically get low usage by tennis players and (2) that adding pickleball court lines to the tennis courts located next to the Jefferson and Rainier Community Centers would constitute a “change of use to parks or park facilities” which would require an opaque and cumbersome review process.

On August 1, Seattle Metro Pickleball Association President Frank Chiappone sent the Association’s reply. Read it here.

Next: Episode 11: Please Write

Categories
News

Why Is SPR Choosing to Treat Southeast Seattle Differently From the Rest of the City?

On July 15, the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Department’s Deputy Superintendent Christopher Williams wrote that (1) it is SPR’s policy to add pickleball lines only to the tennis courts that historically get low usage by tennis players and (2) that adding pickleball court lines to the tennis courts located next to the Jefferson and Rainier Community Centers would constitute a “change of use to parks or park facilities” which would require an opaque and cumbersome review process.

Today, Seattle Metro Pickleball Association President Frank Chiappone sent the following reply.

From: Frank Chiappone
Sent: Sunday, August 1, 2021 4:33 PM
To: Williams, Christopher ; NATHAN KING
Cc: PKS_Info <PKS_Info@seattle.gov>; Sheffer, Andy; SMPA.Board.Of.Directors
Subject: RE: Recreational Equity SE Seattle [pickleball]

Dear Deputy Superintendent Williams,

Thank you for seeking input from the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) regarding the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department’s plan to finally add pickleball court lines to some of the outdoor tennis courts in Southeast Seattle (south of Capitol Hill and East of I-5). 

SMPA is delighted to hear that after adding lines for over 40 outdoor pickleball courts on existing tennis courts in 10 different locations outside of Southeast Seattle, SPR is now getting close to start painting its first pickleball court lines on some of Southeast Seattle’s outdoor tennis courts.

SMPA fully supports SPR’s policy to make significant changes to facility programming only with broad public engagement and support. 

Given that:

  • SPR has already added pickleball lines on tennis courts near existing community centers that host pickleball player communities, such as Delridge, High Point, Miller, Bitter Lake, South Park and Green Lake;
  • SPR has already scheduled the work to add pickleball lines on tennis courts near the Magnolia Community Center which also hosts an active pickleball player community;
  • SPR has recommended in its Pickleball Pilot Study Report that pickleball lines be added on tennis courts near the Meadowbrook Community Center which hosts pickleball players;
  • SPR has recommended in its Pickleball Pilot Study Report that pickleball lines be added on tennis courts near Southeast Seattle’s Rainier Community Center which hosts the largest and most diverse pickleball player community in the entire city;
  • The Pickleball Pilot Study Report has been approved by the Superintendent;
  • SPR’s Strategic Plan states that SPR 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, …”;
  • SPR’s Strategic Plan has been reviewed and approved by the Board of Park Commissioners, the City Council’s Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, and probably the Seattle Council;
  • Southeast Seattle’s Rainier, Jefferson and Van Asselt Community Centers host large, vibrant, and diverse pickleball player communities

SPR’s recently announced plan of adding pickleball court lines on Southeast Seattle tennis courts that are located nowhere near the community centers hosting the local pickleball communities is departing from the de facto policy of locating most pickleball court lines near the community centers that host pickleball players. We must question why SPR is choosing to treat Southeast Seattle differently from the rest of the city.  

You say that “the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners needs to weigh in on any change of use to parks or park facilities”. We would like to point out that SPR has already painted pickleball court lines on over 20 tennis courts, and is planning to paint lines on at least 14 more, without seeking Board of Park Commissioners approval.

We are concerned with SPR’s most recent focus on allowing pickleball only on tennis courts that see little usage by tennis players, without considering why some tennis courts see more usage than others.  High usage correlates with court features such as:

  • the current state of the court surface
  • the proximity of available parking lots which is even more important for pickleball players than tennis players since pickleball players often need to bring their own net,
  • water fountain availability,
  • restroom availability,
  • perceived safety,
  • light availability for evening play,
  • etc.

By allowing pickleball players only on the courts least used by tennis players, you are effectively restricting pickleball players to the least desirable courts and reserving the most desirable courts for tennis players. This is discrimination. We welcome any opportunity to speak directly to the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners, Seattle Parks and Recreation, City Council or any other civic leader that can help us immediately address and correct these concerns.  

Consequently, given the precedent set with other pickleball court lining projects already finished, currently scheduled, or recommended by SPR in other parts of the city, we request that SPR add pickleball court lines to the tennis courts at Rainier Playfield as recommended in SPR’s Pickleball Pilot Study Report and at one of the two of the following locations:

  • Jefferson Park
  • Rainier Beach Playfield

Sincerely,

Frank Chiappone
SMPA President

Categories
News

Semipermanent nets at Bitter Lake

Four semipermanent nets were installed July 30th at the Bitter Lake courts.  These Douglas nets were purchased by SMPA via private donations.  The photo shows SMPA Board members and other volunteers who assembled the nets.  

In addition to the regulars who play in small groups there, a number of larger scheduled pickleball events are taking place at Bitter Lake. Seattle Parks and Recreation has two events under the Rec’N the Streets umbrella. Wednesdays at 10:30-12:30 is a beginner class with an hour of instruction followed by an hour of play. Fridays from 1:30-3:00 is open play.  The Bitter Lake courts are also frequented by round robins and other lessons from Smash Pickleball. The semipermanent nets will greatly enhance Bitter Lake’s pickleball community.

Sarah Webb, SMPA Board of Directors

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News

“Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now: The Saga” – EPISODE 9

It is incumbent upon SPR to articulate why it is policy to preserve the interests of one recreational community over another

RECAP

Nathan King expressed to Mayor Durkan his displeasure with the way the Seattle Parks department is treating Southeast Seattle pickleball players. The Parks Department replied that even though they already have or are about to line tennis courts for pickleball near many community centers that host pickleball programs, when it comes to Southeast Seattle community centers they cannot do the same.

Here is Nathan King’s latest reply, dated July 20.

THE LETTER

To Christopher Williams, Deputy Superintendent
Cc. SMPA, Andy Sheffer Planning and Development Division Director

Greetings Christopher,

Thank you for this reply. I understand why SPR prefers to work with community groups and their representatives and I would guess most members of the pickleball community would prefer this as well. However, your response highlights many of the very reasons why I, and many others, have lost faith in this arrangement. I ask you consider the following:

  1. It is unreasonable to ask the public to funnel feedback through community organizations such as the SMPA when SPR has not in good faith included this organization fully and transparently in all phases of decision making related to equitable use of city courts. I demand the SMPA receives equal representation to that which the tennis community receives via the Amy Yee Tennis Center and its representatives. Otherwise, asking the public to not provide direct feedback to SPR is for the convenience of SPR only.
  2. You mentioned the 16 new courts planned for Southeast Seattle. The fact that you mention this as a gesture of SPR good faith effort to respond to community feedback is tone-deaf and emblematic of many of the issues being raised. A petition with almost 800 signatures addressed why the courts selected for dual-lines in Southeast Seattle are unacceptable and inequitable. By trumpeting this effort on your part reflects either that you, and/or SPR in general are ignorant to this vociferous public feedback, or have simply chosen to ignore it. Pickleball players are asking for quality, not just quantity.
  3. SPR fear of displacing tennis players is just unfair. It is incumbent upon SPR to articulate why it is policy to preserve the interests of one recreational community over another. Currently, tennis players have access to hundreds of tennis courts all around the city. These include the best faculties described as having lights, restrooms, parking newer surfaces, high court capacity, etc. Many of these courts are designated as “tennis only” courts by policy, or de facto owing to lack of pickleball court lines. The SPR plan to designate some courts for dual-lines is in itself inequitable since even these courts are lined in a manner that under utilizes the potential court capacity for pickleball, and uses diminished line color – again for the benefit of tennis. As a result of your desire to prevent “displacement” of tennis players, you have hundreds of displaced pickleball players every weekend crowding the few courts that exist while tennis courts sit empty.
  4. Equity. SPR policy believes it is okay to designate courts for pickleball that are being under utilized by tennis players. In fact, the pilot study even suggests that underutilization of courts be determined by “high instances of graffiti and vandalism.“ Once again, please articulate how you believe this is equitable? Why do you think these courts are underutilized by tennis players? Fair sharing of court facilities means EITHER dual-lining ALL courts in the city starting with the MOST desirable, OR equitably designating courts for either dedicated tennis or pickleball. The reason, I believe this is an equity issue is that USTA tennis, despite efforts to the contrary, has historically been a sport predominantly enjoyed by the most affluent and privileged segments of our city. This is apparent in the continued power and influence this recreational community has within SPR as there is no other way to explain why such a clear bias exists.
  5. Finally, you mentioned a community feedback process by the end of the summer. I will offer my input to my SMPA representatives to not participate in any further meetings with SPR until these core inequities are addressed. I will also advocate to my fellow pickleball community members to not participate in any public feedback sessions with SPR, as this would only be used to legitimize the practice of SPR to ignore public feedback and continue the practice of non-transparent and inequitable decisions making. Instead, I will advocate for legal action opportunities.

As a resident of Southeast Seattle, and individual member of the community, I ask that you address these concerns as a starting point to any plans moving forward.

Thank you.

Nathan King

To be continued…

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“Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now: The Saga” – EPISODE 8

Since the mayor asked, the Parks department’s Deputy Superintendent steps in

Recap: A few days ago, Nathan King expressed to Mayor Durkan his displeasure with the way the Seattle Parks department is treating Southeast Seattle pickleball players.  

July 15, 2021

Nathan, hello.

The Mayor’s Office asked us to respond on their behalf to your July 10 email.

We regret being unable to meet your and other pickleball players’ expectations at this time, despite the fact that we are already adding 16 new pickleball courts in southeast Seattle in 2021-2022.

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s policy is to make any change to facility programming only with broad public engagement and support. In particular, we take care not to make changes that displace other facility users—in this instance, tennis players. In our effort to address the surging interest in pickleball, we have added pickleball lines to the tennis courts that historically get lower use by tennis players.

Because the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners needs to weigh in on any change of use to parks or park facilities, we suggest a public process whereby the pickleball community could bring its concerns and perspective for Park Board consideration. The process would look like this::

  • SPR staff present need/issue to Park Board.
  • SPR staff develops outreach plan to engage the public and solicit public comment.
  • Park Board considers and assesses public comment, and makes their recommendation to the Superintendent.
  • SPR staff develop plan in light of public comment, Park Board’s recommendations, and Superintendent’s final decision.

We can aim to make an initial presentation to the Park Board before the end of this summer.

I am herewith copying Frank Chiappone, SMPA president, at f****@***.com, to keep him and SMPA apprised. Because SPR works with community groups and their representatives, rather than individuals, it will be crucial that we have clearly delineated representatives with whom to work. Andy Sheffer (andy.sheffer@seattle.gov), the Planning and Development Division Director, will be overseeing that process.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Christopher Williams
Deputy Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation 

Isn’t it amazing how Seattle Parks has already lined, is about to line, or has recommended to add pickleball lines to tennis courts next to the Bitter Lake, Delridge, Green Lake, High Point, Meadowbrook, Magnolia Miller, and South Park community centers, but when it comes to Southeast Seattle community centers, the Deputy Superintendent says it can’t be done without a long and opaque process? 

By the way, Seattle Parks’ very own Pickleball Pilot Study Report recommends that the tennis courts by the Rainier Community Center be lined for pickleball. That’s right: One of the two locations where the petition you signed asked for pickleball lines had been pre-approved! But that was then and this is now.

And Seattle Parks’ very own brand spanking new Strategic Plan says they 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, […], and updating parks to meet changing community needs.” Did they mean to say “including converting the worst tennis courts into multi-sport courts“?

To be continued…

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“Southeast Seattle Needs Outdoor Pickleball Courts Now: The Saga” – EPISODE 7

Greetings Mayor Durkan

From: Nathan King
Sent: July 10, 2021
To: 
Mayor Durkan, Tammy Morales, Superintendent Jesus Aguirre and Oliver Bazinet
Subject: Recreational Equity SE Seattle

Greetings Mayor Durkan,

I’m writing to express my deep disappointment in the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department led by Superintendent Aguirre and to make you aware of the department’s failure to provide equitable access to park facilities to the residents of Southeast Seattle.

More than 700 residents have signed a petition to open up park facilities at Jefferson Park and Rainier Playfield in Southeast Seattle for pickleball – a sport which provides health and recreation to a wide and diverse cross section of community members. This petition included a request to meet with Superintendent Aguirre.

Unfortunately, Superintendent Aguirre has ignored both this request to meet, as well as the voices of hundreds of Southeast Seattle residents pleading for recreational access. It is unfortunate that a department supposedly committed to making equity a policy focus, would act in manner such to the contrary.

Because the needs of so many residents of Southeast Seattle are seemingly not a priority for Superintendent Aguirre, I’m asking your help to encourage him to address this part of the city so often overlooked and underserved. Please direct Superintendent Aguirre to meet with the Southeast Seattle representatives requesting equitable access to park facilities.

Thank You.

Nathan King
Southeast Seattle Resident
Link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/southeast-seattle-needs-outdoor-pickleball-courts-now