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 Strategic Plan. 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|
|Outdoor||15 tennis courts shared with pickleball players.||28 pickleball courts shared with tennis players, tennis teams, tennis instructors, tennis camps.|
|Outdoor||Nets provided.||Nets rarely provided. Players need to bring and install their own pickleball net – an equity issue.|
|Outdoor||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|
|Indoor||62 mostly badminton courts in multi-sport indoor gyms. (Badminton court lines only approximate pickleball court lines.)|
|Indoor||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
[*] 2021 SMPA update: You can find the current list of pickleball courts on the TimeForPickleball web site.
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?