Petoskey, Michigan: City optimistic about pickleball plans
PETOSKEY — Petoskey is moving forward with plans to build two pickleball courts at Riverbend Park.
If all goes according to plan, officials expect the cost to taxpayers to be minimal, due in large part to grassroots efforts from local enthusiasts. Earlier this week, Petoskey City Council members authorized the city to apply for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport Grant for $125,000. The remaining $100,000 needed is slated to come from money that has been raised by the Little Traverse Bay Pickleball Association.
“It’s a great success story in funding, and another great amenity on the horizon for the city of Petoskey,” city manager Rob Straebel said.
Pickleball is an emerging racket sport that is played on a hard surface smaller than a tennis court. Two players on either side of a net volley a plastic ball back and forth using a solid racket about the size of a racquetball racket.
PickleballCentral.com, one of the largest online pickleball retailers, reported in 2014 an average of 3,000 paddles were sold per month. That number grew to 16,000 in 2017.
Kendall Klingelsmith, parks and recreation director, has said in past interviews and public meetings that plans for pickleball courts have been among the most well-received items in past city master plans.
According to past News-Review articles, local enthusiasts have been working on getting regulation-sized courts in the city for nearly three years. The city and the association have had to make some adjustments in their plans over time. At one point, there were plans to build three courts at Riverbend Park, but that has been scaled back to two. And financial constraints have also meant delaying the start of construction on the project to seek additional funding. The project was initially slated to cost $150,000, but bids ran high.
But still, officials are optimistic that all the legwork will come to fruition.
“The Little Traverse Bay Pickleball Association is a passionate group who has written grants, done fundraisers, done all sorts of very beneficial things to raise funds, and we’ve put our heads together and identified a great location,” Klingelsmith said. “We had the plans drawn up and put it out to bid with the hopes to build it this year, and like most of the bids we’ve seen, they came in extremely high to the point where we are going to Plan B and going to the state.”
Klingelsmith said, if the grant is successful, the city will likely know by late fall and the courts could be ready some time next year.
“This could be a great story where we could have a great amenity for the city with not a lot of upfront capital, we just have a group of people in the community who are very passionate and want to help us out,” he said.
According to past articles, Bear Creek Township is also providing $5,000 in funding for the project.
The Little Traverse Bay Pickleball Association fund is being handled through the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, so donations can be made there.