To: Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent
Cc: Courtney Brown, Justin Cutler, Matt Look, Tim Pretare
Seattle, May 8, 2021
Dear Mr. Aguirre,
We would like to bring to your attention that Southeast Seattle (South of Capitol Hill, East of I-5) pickleball players are being neglected by Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR).
While the Parks department’s new strategic plan (http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/ParksAndRecreation/PoliciesPlanning/SPR_Strategic_Plan.03.27.2020.pdf) states on page 13 that one of its new strategies is to “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 more paved pathways, and updating parks to meet changing community needs”, the Amy Yee tennis center seems to be focused on preserving the “best” outdoor tennis courts for tennis players.
The pickleball players were told by SPR’s “Rec’n The Streets” that Jefferson Park was available for us to play on Friday, April 09. A group of 20 players showed up to play. The advanced players taped a court. The more recreational players chalked a court. There was a question by the players if we would be able to play the following Friday. I called Matt Look to see if it was possible to play. He told me we were not given permission to use Jefferson Park tennis courts. He did not want us to tape or chalk lines on the tennis courts because he said it will ruin the courts surface. Matt Look also told me if they let pickleball players use the tennis courts pickleball will take over the tennis courts. This thinking just doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the Parks vision of working with the community.
We are now told by SPR’s “Rec’n The Streets” that Pickleball could be played at Beacon Hill Park on Friday, May 14. I went there on Thursday, April 29. I was disappointed to see how old and run down the courts were. Very little street parking. Lots of construction and the workers use up what street parking there is. Rainier Park was also mentioned but Matt Look said it would be Beacon Hill Park where Pickleball could be played. I then went to Rainier Park and could not believe the difference! It was exactly like Jefferson Park, clean painted tennis courts with ample parking. Beautiful!
Once again, Pickleball players were given old rundown courts to play on, it is not even worth the money to paint these old courts for pickleball.
Mr. Aguirre, the following are solutions we ask of you:
1. Reserve the outdoor courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park for Pickleball players 3 times a week starting immediately.
Both of these locations have a large number of senior pickleball players who have not been able to play in the adjoining community centers for over a year.
Reserving these courts for pickleball players is similar to what SPR already permitted at Miller and Delridge. SPR can tape or chalk pickleball lines at Jefferson and Rainier while waiting for permanent lines to be painted.
2. Paint Pickleball courts lines on all the outdoor tennis courts at Jefferson Park and Rainier Park as soon as the weather permits.
Players in the north end have access to outdoor courts at Bitter Lake, Green Lake, Discovery Park and Soundview. Players living closer to the city center have access to outdoor courts at Miller, Observatory Park and Kinnear Park. West Seattle players have access at Delridge and Walt Hundley. Meanwhile, Southeast Seattle Pickleball players do not have access to any local outdoor playable courts.
3. Address the inequalities between the usage of tennis courts and pickleball courts now.
The current attitude of “let’s give them access to the run-down courts at Beacon Hill Park; it is better than nothing” is not acceptable especially since Parks has their vision of multi-use tennis courts.
Jean Crowhorn and Miguel de Campos
Co-Southeast Seattle Pickleball Player Representatives