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Seattle Parks Listening Sessions Update

Seattle Parks sent you an invitation that reads “We want to hear your ideas on how to make our recreation facilities and programs work for you! Join the conversation with recreation leadership and share your ideas on how we can improve recreation communications, facility hours, and programs.”

Eighteen people, fifteen of which were pickleball players, attended the first listening session.

Here is what transpired.

Good News

Seattle Parks is considering increasing evening and weekend operating hours at its community centers. 

Bad News

To increase evening and weekend operating hours, something’s gotta give: the current operating hours. Seattle Parks is considering taking away some of the hours that the community centers are currently open during the day Mondays to Fridays and moving them to evenings and weekends. This could seriously affect the current drop-in pickleball schedule.

What Can You Do About It?

Attend a listening session

If you attend one of the listening sessions, you will be asked four questions:

  1. Indicate when you would like to access recreation facilities and programs, by distributing stickies across days (MTWTFSS) and time slots (7-9,9-12,12-2,2-5,5-9).
  2. What are the main ways that you hear or learn about recreation activities
  3. How would changing hours to evening or weekend impact you?
  4. Is there anything else you would like to share with Seattle Park and Recreation leadership?
Participants in Seattle Parks first listening session at the Delridge Community Center on November 9th, 2022
Make your voice heard

When we hear about expanded hours, we all dream of more pickleball hours. But that is not what we are talking about here. This is mostly a reallocation of hours towards evenings and weekends.

When you answer #3, keep in mind that a carelessly executed expansion plan could lead to the loss of current pickleball drop-in sessions and no new evening or weekend pickleball drop-in sessions.

Answer the online survey

Seattle Parks released an online survey. It will ask questions similar to the ones above.

Make your voice heard

When we hear about expanded hours, we all dream of more pickleball hours. But that is not what we are talking about here. This is mostly a reallocation of hours towards evenings and weekends.

When you answer question #13 (“How would changing the community center operating hours to evenings and weekends impact you?”), keep in mind that a carelessly executed expansion plan could lead to the loss of current pickleball drop-in sessions and no new evening or weekend pickleball drop-in sessions.

Use question #17 (“When you visit a Seattle park, what are some of the things that you would consider an enjoyable experience”) and #18 (“When you think about welcoming safe and clean parks, what does that look like to you) to talk about what you would consider an enjoyable pickleball recreation program and enjoyable pickleball recreation facilities. See yesterday’s post if you need a little inspiration.

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Come Tell Seattle Parks How Well Their Pickleball Programs Are Working for You

How is the indoor pickleball drop-in program working for you? Are the drop-in sessions happening on convenient days and at convenient times? Are there enough players showing up for you to have a game? Can you find sessions attended by players with a skill level that matches yours? Are the kitchen lines painted at the right distance from the net? Are there enough drop-in sessions?

Seattle Parks drop-in pickleball offerings peaked in 2018 and are currently about 25% below that peak. (Data based on weekly indoor drop-in offerings as of November 2nd of each year.)

How are the pickleball classes offered by Seattle Parks? Are they offered at convenient times? At convenient locations? Spanning the right skill levels? If you wanted to enroll, were you able to do so?

How easy is it for you to find out which facilities offer indoor pickleball and what their schedule is? How easy is it for you to know when schedule changes occur?

How is the outdoor pickleball program working for you? Seattle Parks reserves outdoor courts exclusively for pickleball at Delridge, Walt Hundley and Miller some weekday mornings. Did you know about those? Would you like to see more dedicated outdoor pickleball drop-in sessions sponsored by the Parks Department at other locations or at other times?

Does your neighborhood have enough semi-permanent pickleball nets for your outdoor pickleball courts?

Are the pickleball lines easy to see on your local outdoor courts?

Pickleball court lines at Brighton Playfield

Seattle Parks wants to hear your ideas on how to make their recreation facilities and programs work for you! Join the conversation with recreation leadership and share your ideas on how they can improve recreation communications, facility hours, and programs.

Seattle Parks is organizing 4 listening sessions where you can share your feedback. These sessions are not just for pickleball, but let’s make sure there is a huge pickleball turnout at all four sessions. Please pick one session to attend and bring your friends. Wear your favorite pickleball shirt.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 9 – Delridge Community Center, 6 to 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, Nov. 10 – Meadowbrook Community Center, 6 to 7:30 pm
  • Tuesday, Nov. 15 – Jefferson Community Center, 6 to 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, Nov. 17 – Bitter Lake Community Center, 6 to 7:30 pm

Families welcome. Refreshments provided.

UPDATE: A fifth session has been added:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 15 – Jefferson Community Center, 6 to 7:30 pm

    Morning listening sessions will be announced soon.

    See you there!

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    Help Seattle’s Miller Players Get More Courts

    What?

    The Miller players’ effort to get more pickleball courts is now at City Hall, where they have found a couple of officials who may be willing to intervene with Seattle Parks and Recreation on their behalf.

    What Can I do?

    Add your voice to theirs by emailing those officials with your support.

    This sample email is all set up for you with officials’ addresses and supporting text. Please personalize the text as much as you like, sign your name and send it off. 

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    Seattle Outdoor Pickleball Construction Briefing and Update

    We were hoping to learn more about SPR’s current plan for outdoor pickleball during this briefing, but the presentation remained at a very high-level. If you have attended Seattle Parks’ two open houses on the subject or read our post titled New Seattle Outdoor Pickleball Courts: Draft Plan, you probably know a lot more about the subject than the Commissioners do.

    A few interesting points nonetheless:

    • SPR describes pickleball’s growth as a pickleball explosion.
    • SPR gets the social nature of pickleball, as well as its drop-in culture.
    • SPR was surprised to get over 3,000 responses to their online survey.
    • SPR thinks that a few single tennis courts that are not very much used are the best candidates to be converted into dedicated pickleball courts. Unfortunately, most such courts in Seattle are smaller than regular size tennis courts. This means that once converted into pickleball courts, these pickleball courts would have less room than you might expect behind the base lines. Watch the beginning of this video to see why having space behind the baselines is important to be able to retrieve deep shots.
    • Preliminary cost estimates for two brand new dedicated pickleball facilities of 8 to 12 courts are more than originally anticipated when planning for the upcoming Seattle Parks District budget cycle.
    • SPR reports that Seattle schools might start lining some of the tennis courts at their facilities.

    You can watch the entire presentation below. We apologize for the blue box covering some of the slides.

    The entire meeting, including the presentation above is available here. This video does not have the blue box problem of the video above, but the image is not as sharp.

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    Seattle Outdoor Pickleball Construction Briefing and Update

    What?

    Oliver Bazinet, Seattle Parks’ Senior Planning and Development Specialist, is scheduled to brief the Seattle Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners about the results of his department’s latest outdoor pickleball study.

    When?

    On Thursday August 11.

    Tune in at 6:35pm to listen to the public comments., some of which might be about pickleball.

    Tune in at 7:05pm to listen to the “Outdoor Pickleball Construction Briefing and Update.”

    How?

    In person: at 100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
    Or online.
    If all else fails, go here.

    Will I have a chance to speak?

    To get a chance to speak for two minutes during the “public comments” section at the beginning of the meeting, send an email to Paula Hoff (paula.hoff@seattle.gov) before 5:30pm on Thursday. In the Subject field of your email, please write: Board meeting public comment. Please provide in the body of the email, your name, email address, and if calling in to the meeting, your phone number.

    Note that the “public comments” section of the meeting will happen before the “Outdoor Pickleball Construction Briefing and Update” section.

    Will I have a chance to comment on the “Outdoor Pickleball Construction Briefing and Update”?

    Not during this meeting.

    You can offer your comments after the meeting by reaching out to the Parks Board Commissioners via Benjamin Burtzos or drectly to Oliver Bazinet.

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    Seattle’s Miller Player Petitions for 6 Pickleball Courts on 2 Tennis Courts

    While the Miller courts currently have lines for two tennis courts or four pickleball courts, they are used predominantly for pickleball. Moreover, there are often long lines of pickleball players waiting for a turn to play. Adding 2 pickleball courts in the existing space would provide 50% more pickleball capacity at very little cost.

    Since Seattle Parks is planning to resurface these courts this summer, now would be the perfect time to transition from 4 to 6 pickleball courts at this location.

    You can view and sign Linda’s petition here: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/more-pickleball-courts-for-miller-park

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    Lines For 16 New Pickleball Courts Coming to Seattle This Summer

    According to one of the consultants working on the Seattle Parks’ outdoor pickleball study, the tennis courts at Rainier Beach, Gilman Playground, and Alki will be graced with pickleball court lines this summer. This should give us 8 new pickleball courts at Rainier Beach, 4 at Gilman, and 4 at Alki for a total of 16 sets of lines for new pickleball courts.

    Seattle Parks is planning to provide nets for these courts, as well as nets for currently existing outdoor pickleball courts.

    The existing tennis and pickleball courts at Miller Playfield will be resurfaced this summer as well.

    JULY 20 UPDATE:
    Seattle Parks plans to buy semi-permanent nets for half the new courts at Rainier Beach, Gilman Playground and Alki.
    In addition, SMPA and Seattle Parks will be buying a total of 8 to 12 more nets. Some of these will be installed at existing pickleball sites that do not currently have nets, such as Magnolia, Soundview, Brighton, Mount Baker, Brighton, Beacon Hill or Dearborn Park.

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    New Seattle Outdoor Pickleball Courts: Draft Plan

    Seattle Parks has released the maps of the proposed new pickleball courts that they presented on May 25th, during their second outdoor pickleball study open house. Read all about it below.

    Keep in mind that nothing is set in stone.

    Highlights

    More courts

    The current plan significantly increases the number of locations where people can play pickleball by:

    • In the short term, adding pickleball court lines to more existing tennis courts.
    • In the medium term, converting a few tennis courts that currently see very little usage into dedicated pickleball courts.
    • In the long term, creating two brand new dedicated pickleball facilities, each with 8 to 12 pickleball courts.

    More lights

    People who work during the day have very few opportunities to play pickleball in Seattle during weekdays during the 6 darkest months of the year. Currently only the Miller pickleball courts have reasonable lights. This new plan proposes to add pickleball court lines at the following tennis courts which already have lights:

    • Alki Playground (West Seattle)
    • Laurelhurst (Northeast)
    • Madrona (Central)
    • Meadowbrook (Northeast)
    • Rainier Beach (South Seattle)
    • Solstice Park (West Seattle)

    It also calls for adding lights to the following existing courts:

    • Green Lake East (Northwest)
    • Magnolia Playfield (Central)

    Summary

    We have summarized the proposed changes below. Click on any of the headings to see the corresponding maps.

    Northeast

    • Add pickleball court lines to the existing tennis courts at the following locations:
      – Bryant Neighborhood Playground
      – Laurelhurst Playfield (2 out of 4 tennis courts)
      – Meadowbrook Playfield (3 out of 6 tennis courts)
      – Victory Heights Playground
    • Create 8 to 12 new dedicated pickleball courts in the Magnuson Park parking lot by Frog Pond
    • Consider conversion, dual stripe, and lights when renovating the Ravenna Park tennis courts
    • Consider converting the old Cowen Park tennis courts

    Northwest

    • Add pickleball court lines to the existing tennis courts at the following location: West Green Lake
    • Add lights to the East Green Lake courts
    • Either dual stripe both tennis courts at Wallingford Playfield or convert one of the two tennis courts into pickleball courts

    Central Area

    • Convert one of the Observatory Courts tennis courts on Queen Anne to 4 dedicated pickleball courts
    • Add pickleball court lines to the existing tennis courts at the following locations:
      – Montlake Playfield
      – Madrona Playground
    • Add lights to the West Magnolia Playfield courts

    Southeast

    • Either dual stripe both tennis courts at Seward Park, or convert one of the two tennis courts into pickleball courts.
    • Add pickleball court lines to the existing tennis courts at the following location: Rainier Beach Playfield
    • Consider converting the old Fred Hutchinson Playground tennis courts into pickleball courts with their upcoming renovation
    • Create 8 to 12 new dedicated pickleball courts at Genesee Playfield, just east of the Rainier Community Center

    Southwest

    • Add pickleball court lines to the existing tennis courts at the following locations:
      – Alki Playground
      – Riverside Playfield
      – Solstice Park (3 out of 6 tennis courts)

    A Word of Caution

    Keep in mind that you are looking at a draft version of the plan and nothing is set in stone.

    Thank You!

    Thank you for your efforts reaching out to Seattle and letting them know what you wanted. It helped tremendously. None of this would have happened without your involvement. This is a community-wide effort, and our pickleball community is the best.

    What’s Next?

    We expect Seattle Parks to present an updated proposal to the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners on either July 14th or August 11th.

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    New Court Lines Coming to Seattle This Summer

    Seattle Parks should release the official list by the end of June.

    Gilman

    We expect this list to include the Gilman Playground tennis courts in Ballard. These courts were initially slated to be resurfaced last summer, but it never happened probably because of poor air quality at the time the resurfacing was supposed to take place.

    Rainier Beach

    This list will also very likely include the Rainier Beach tennis courts. With 8 lighted pickleball courts, we expect this to become a hub for the Southeast Seattle pickleball community.

    What’s Next?

    We expect Seattle Parks to officially announce by the end of June which tennis courts will get pickleball lines this summer.

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    “We Recommend Full Funding”

    In April, you submitted questions to Seattle’s Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners. They did not have any answers for you at their public hearing or afterwards.

    They did however say the following in their Draft Chair’s Report and Recommendations dated May 5th:

    We recommend full funding ($1.55M) for the Racket Sport Maintenance and Expansion proposal in consideration of pickleball’s growing popularity in the city and region, and public comment during this prioritization process. After hearing community feedback – now and over the past few years – we know it is important to Seattleites that we expand the use of our tennis courts to accommodate pickleball. Not only is it the state sport, but it is accessible to elders and folks with diverse abilities.
    — Jessica Farmer and Marlon Herrera Co-Chairs, Seattle Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners, May 5, 2022