“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.


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…