PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Pickleball players in Sellwood are trying to repair run-down courts with donated money, but the city isn’t taking them up on the offer.
PDX Pickleball Club, which was formed in 2017 and has 300 members, raised $9,000 to repair cracks and tripping hazards on select courts at Sellwood Park. The plan was to also convert the courts from tennis to pickleball use only.
Currently, the players usually play on blended courts, which are usually pickleball court lines painted on shared tennis courts.
Cathy Owen, a member with the club, said there are no dedicated pickleball courts in the immediate area. Some pickleball enthusiasts travel to other cities or suburbs to play on courts made specifically for the sport.
“To drive to some of these places, it would be an hour-round trip, and having that kind of taxing our already choked traffic system doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Owen. “So, we’re looking to play here close to where we live. That would be ideal.”
Owen remembers Portland Park & Recreation employees giving the club the green light for the project. However, she said the city stopped the project at 50% completion.
“We were – we’re still really disappointed. We hope things will change and turn around, but we do understand the bureaucracy of government,” Owen said.
Mark Ross, who is a spokesperson for Portland Parks & Recreation, said there may have been some “communications issues” between the two parties.
“We are working to smooth out the confusion,” said Ross. “We appreciate the passion and advocacy of park users and sports enthusiasts.”
PP&R told KOIN 6 News that the department did meet with the club about members wanting to have some work done at the courts.
There’s $218,400 listed to convert upper tennis courts to pickleball courts at Sellwood Park, according to the department’s 2016 park system 20-year capital improvement plan.
The department is required to maintain a list of capacity increasing projects intended to address the need created by growth. The list is a “living” document that may be modified at any time.
“PP&R sees pickleball as a part of the tennis program where both support lifelong healthy lifestyles,” said Ross. “Equitable access to tennis courts will remain a priority as we respond to emerging recreation demands.”
PP&R is currently hosting a community engagement process to review the use of the city’s 103 outdoor tennis courts and identify opportunities for redeveloping courts for other uses, such as pickleball.
According to the city, 73 of the 103 tennis court surfaces are in poor condition, while 30 are considered “fair, good or excellent.”
When asked about the Portland Parks & Recreation’s 20-year capital improvement plan, Owen said, “I’m not sure I’m going to live that long.”
She added, “I’m one of the younger members… but a lot of us are retired.”
After the club’s project was shutdown, Owen said they spent $1,000 on a permit to move forward with any possible construction work on Portland Parks & Recreation property. She expressed concern about the project not being able to move forward in time.
“We needed to get it done during the hot weather,” Owen noted. “We were hoping to have this done within August. If it starts to rain, it doesn’t make sense to apply those layers. They won’t cure properly… We would have to wait until next year.”
PP&R said it needs public input and future developments in place before moving forward with the club’s permit.
People have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, to give feedback on Portland’s tennis courts.