The growing sport of pickleball may see new opportunities in West St. Paul. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will discuss options at their meeting on Tuesday, February 9.
Pickleball is a paddleball sport that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. In a 2017 Pioneer Press article about the sport’s growing popularity said it’s been described as “tennis for couch potatoes.” The article quoted West St. Paul’s Laura Hahn who said, “I call it easy ping-pong.”
In 2018, a West St. Paul resident made an impassioned plea before City Council to consider adding pickleball.
Currently two tennis courts in West St. Paul are lined for pickleball, but they still use the tennis nets, so it’s not a true pickleball experience. Nearby pickleball options include a new facility in Inver Grove Heights and temporary courts on a paved ice rink in Mendota Heights. The YMCA had a popular pickleball program until their closure in 2019.
The city’s plan is to permanently convert existing and underused tennis courts at Haskell Park or Emerson Park to pickleball. This is a more cost effective than building new courts. Emerson Park is the preferred option due to the courts being closer to the street. Four pickleball courts could fit on the existing tennis court, with a potential for six if pickleball took over the basketball court as well.
There is $20,000 in the Parks and Recreation budget for court resurfacing in 2021, and Emerson is the only court that needs it.
Previous pickleball plans included temporary courts in the paved rink at Harmon Park. The city was unsuccessful in getting grants to fund this approach, and after increased summer usage of the rink for roller-skating, the city has moved away from this idea.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will discuss the plans during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 9 at 5:30 p.m. Limited seating is available and the meeting will be broadcast on Town Square TV.
Feb 9, 2021 Update: The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee preferred the Emerson plan (without converting the basketball court). The next step is to invite public input at the March meeting and then pass it along to City Council.
March 10, 2021 Update: The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee unanimously approved the plan to convert the Emerson Park tennis court to pickleball. The current plan is to have two pickleball courts (four proved to be too crowded). This recommendation will move forward to City Council for final approval.
March 23, 2021 Update: The West St. Paul City Council officially approved the proposal to bring pickleball to Emerson Park. Look for resurfacing work to begin this spring/summer.
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