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Greater Seattle Area Court News – December 2019

Indoor

Seattle

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 (justin.cutler@seattle.gov), 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.

12 paddles in play, 20 paddles waiting to play.
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.

Outdoor


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.


Seattle

For a detailed look at the status of Seattle outdoor pickleball, read this article on the Time For Pickleball web site.

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.

Shoreline

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.

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Gig Harbor Pickleball News

June 2019

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!

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Mercer Island Pickleball News

June 2019

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.

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Updates from Ravenna Eckstein Court Project

May 2019

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: pickleballeckstein@gmail.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)

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Seattle Parks and SMPA working committee

April 2019

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.

What we are waiting for

After an extensive review by SMPA of possible dedicated pickleball court sites, SMPA delivered a full report on possible permanent outdoor pickleball facilities.
That list was prepared by an SMPA committee based on 40 suggested sites, reduced to eight based on factors that included current condition, access to bathroom
facilities, parking, local transportation, and reviewed against the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice criteria. The list is currently in the hands of the
SPR facilities team.

In April 2019, SMPA began meeting on a biweekly basis with the SPR working committee to map out an action plan based on the results of the 2018 pilot program.
The Board hopes to soon be able to report progress on a number of proposed pickleball facility possibilities around the metro area.

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Seattle Parks and Recreation Launches Seven Pickleball Pilot Sites and Provides Pickleball Equipment at Five Sites

The courts were lined in late October. Nets were made available in November. This press release makes it official. Come out and play!

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24 New Outdoor Pickleball Courts

The Seattle Parks Department has added pickleball lines to existing outdoor tennis courts in seven locations to create a total of 24 new outdoor pickleball courts. Many thanks to all the pickleball players who attended meetings and wrote emails, and to the Pickleball Pilot Project Team at the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department!

The seven locations are:

Pickleball Nets

The new pickleball courts don’t have permanent pickleball nets. We will have to use portable pickleball nets instead. You can buy your own net, borrow one, or join a group that already has one.

Where to borrow a portable pickleball net

The Seattle Parks Department Pickleball Pilot Project Team has delivered portable nets, balls and wooden paddles that you can borrow to the Delridge, Green Lake, Miller, and South Park Community Centers, as well as at the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center.

How to setup a portable pickleball net

There are many portable pickleball nets offered for sale. While they have small differences, you will learn most of what you need to know by watching this YouTube video:

Is there more we can do?

The Parks Department needs to know that their efforts are paying off. Make sure you send an email to pickleball@seattle.gov to let them know which new pickleball courts you are using and to thank them for making it possible.

And please Join! so that we can update you on progress and other opportunities to engage in getting the City of Seattle to increase our pickleball venues indoors and out across Seattle.

Thank you!
Seattle Metro Pickleball Association

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Pilot Project Status, 9/12/2017

What pilot project?

The Seattle Parks Department launched its pickleball “pilot project” in July. Based on the feedback Parks received, they will paint pickleball lines on only a select list of existing outdoor tennis courts. The comment period for this pilot project ended on September 5, 2017.

What Parks plans to do

This is the city’s response regarding the painting of pickleball lines on the 7 area courts that are part of the pilot, in the words of the project manager, Ms. Karimah Edwards, Capital Projects Planner, City of Seattle (dates in parentheses are ours):

  • The comment period for pickleball closed last week with no opposition (September 5, 2017)
  • The courts have been designed and bids have been solicited for court lining
  • We have received bids and anticipate finalizing a contract this week (September 11, 2017)

The City of Seattle solicited bids from contractors that could complete the lining by the end of September 2017. However, they anticipate the lining project would be completed in October (2017) at the latest.

What’s next?

Keep an eye out for lines to be painted on these courts:

  • Green Lake Park in central-north district
  • South Park Community Center in south-west district
  • Georgetown Playfield in south-central district
  • Delridge Community Center in south-west district
  • Discovery Park Court in central-west district
  • Miller Community Center in central-east district
  • Soundview Playfield in north-west district

Paddles at the ready everyone, and we will post more updates as we learn about the painting schedule.

What’s the lining plan?

The intent is to have tennis lines and pickleball lines coexist. Not all tennis courts at any given location are to have pickleball lines. Originally, the Parks department wanted to paint lines so that one tennis court could be used as one pickleball court.

In a meeting with our SMPA Board and other community members, we pointed out how it would make sense to paint lines for multiple pickleball courts on a single tennis court. This strategy has been used locally and successfully at Yost Park in Edmonds  where two tennis courts were lined to be used as eight pickleball courts.

Two tennis courts lined for pickleball at Yost Park in Edmonds

Is there more we can do?

With the comment period ended and the pilot officially launched, keep playing. And if you do have comments to make to the city about pickleball, use the email address pickleball@seattle.gov.

And please Join! so that we can update you on progress and other opportunities to engage in getting the City of Seattle to increase our pickleball venues indoors and out across Seattle.

Thank you!
Seattle Metro Pickleball Association