Pickleball needs a home. Durango has identified two possible … – The Durango Herald

Pickleball needs a home. Durango has identified two possible … – The Durango Herald

Durango’s pickleball community of about 200 members has been yearning for a place to play ever since the city put the kibosh on pickleball at outdoor tennis courts because of neighborhood complaints about the noise.
Since then, the city identified Smith Sports Complex at Fort Lewis College as a possible site for dedicated pickleball courts.But after a design presentation to the public in April, lacrosse and soccer officials voiced concerns about losing parking spaces to pickleball players. They also raised safety concerns that might arise if more people must park in adjacent parking lots and cross a busy road lacking a four-way stop.
The Parks and Recreation Department took note of the concerns and set out again to identify suitable locations for the pickleball community. Smith Sports Complex remains on the table, but the parks department has also identified Schneider Park between Roosa Avenue and the Animas River, adjacent to the skate park.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board reviewed design concepts for both locations earlier this week. The parks department has also scheduled a public meeting for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Durango Community Recreation Center to further review designs and discuss preferred site locations.
The Smith Sports Complex would cost about $700,000 to develop, including benches, fencing and trash cans. Outdoor lighting probably wouldn’t be included, even though it was part of the initial design plans, said Ture Nycum, director of Parks and Recreation.
Schneider Park would cost about $730,315. The pros of building six pickleball courts at that location include protection from the wind and the river acts as a natural buffer to noises caused by whacking pickleballs. The site also has restrooms, although those would need to be renovated, said Rob Trevor, with the parks department.
Schneider Park is also in proximity to the center of town, can be accessed from the Animas River Trail and has multimodal access in that it is easy to travel to on foot, by bike or car. There are 28 parking spaces available at the park.
Several Durango and La Plata County residents attended the advisory board meeting on Wednesday to advocate for the pickleball courts. Those who spoke appeared to favor building them at Smith Sports Complex.
Durango resident Ron Blanchard said requests for pickleball courts have been “years in the making,” and while he appreciates the Parks and Recreation Department’s efforts, he is disappointed that soccer and lacrosse officials have “lobbied” against the idea of courts at Smith Sports Complex.
He said Smith Sports Complex is an “excellent” location, and any concerns about courts there can be addressed.
“Parking: The loss of some parking in the current lot next to the fields is unfortunate,” he said. “However, there are literally hundreds of parking spots just across (East Eighth Avenue). The soccer and lacrosse players already use the Fort Lewis parking lots.”
Regarding safety, he said he hopes parents would walk their children across the street if they need to cross it.
“If that safety issue is not enough, I think we can get pickleball players to agree to act as crossing guards that’s needed up there during game times or tournaments,” he said.
He acknowledged that soccer and lacrosse events generate a lot of money for Durango, but he said it is not exclusive to either sport and applies to all recreational sports in town. He said concerns about pickleball at Smith Sports Complex sound like NIMBY-ism (not in my backyard).
“As a taxpayer, I paid to build the soccer, lacrosse fields twice and continue to pay for the maintenance of the fields,” Blanchard said. “The outcome does not have to be adversarial. Durango is a very inclusive society, and I would hope that the sense of community cooperation would prevail.”
Wayne Peterson of Edgemont subdivision northeast of Durango said he and his family recently visited St. George, Utah, for an athletic event with his son. While there, they saw a “beautiful (pickleball) complex with 24 courts the city has put together.”
“Magnificent,” he said. “It had sun protection. It had bleachers and we saw a lot of young families there during the whole day and in the evening. Families with their dogs and kids.”
He called the pickleball complex a “jewel” and said he wants to see a something like that in Durango.
“I want you to know, folks, we are jammed in here (the recreation center),” he said. “Every time we come to play, there’s 12, 14, 16 paddles on the ground and we cannot get on courts. We’re waiting to get on courts. There are no outdoor courts.”
He asked for Parks and Recreation’s support in making outdoor courts happen soon.
“I think we’ll see tremendous financial benefits to the city and also put a jewel on a map and say Durango is a place we want to go to, not only for biking and dogs and SUVs,” he said, “but also for pickleball.”

Durango Herald
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