The latest community pushback to municipal park pickleball developments comes from West Seattle. A multifaceted plan to add pickleball courts at West Seattle’s Lincoln Park and Solstice courts has continued to meet criticism from neighbors.
With pickleball continuing to grow exponentially in the Northwest, Seattle’s Parks Department needs help to keep up with the demands of adding courts around the city and cannot catch a break.
According to the Seattle Parks and Recreation website, the decision to make these park adjustments to support pickleball in West Seattle came from a 2021-22 Outdoor Pickleball study. The plan outlined three possible approaches to meet Seattle’s growing demand for outdoor pickleball, all being met with opposition:
- Dual striping (immediate opportunity) at Solstice Park
- Converting existing tennis courts to pickleball only (mid-term) at Lincoln Park
- Constructing a new dedicated pickleball facility (long-term) location to be determined.
Initially, the project scope was simple: add pickleball stripes to the prexisting tennis courts and resurface them to improve the quality of play at Solstice Park. However, after receiving feedback from tennis players opposing the plan, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department canceled its initial goal and announced a new project to create a pickleball-only site in Lincoln Park.
This new decision was met with backlash from the pickleball community, who feel blindsided by the change of plans, and Lincoln Park devotees, who fear that pickleball will disrupt the park’s peace. With contrasting views, a petition by the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association asks the city to stick to the Solstice-striping plan. In contrast, a petition by local wildlife biologist/advocate, Kersti Muul, opposes the Lincoln Park pickleball plan and the potential off-leash area, with over 1,200 signatures as of this morning.
Despite the setbacks, the Parks Department has remained determined to enhance its recreation programs and services and expand pickleball courts in Seattle. However, there have been delays due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the supply of materials and unfavorable weather conditions. The resurfacing of Solstice Park’s tennis courts, initially considered “imminent,” has been postponed until the spring/summer of 2024.
Questions have been raised about the cost of converting the Lincoln Park site, with concerns that more than the allocated $140,000 may be needed. The Seattle Parks Department clarified that the money came from an Associated Recreation Council (ARC) grant from an independent non-profit that has long supported Seattle Parks programs.
While the funds were not earmarked for this project, they were allocated towards pickleball expansion and recreation programs and services. While the Lincoln Park pickleball plan now has a page on the Parks Department website, funding and further opposition may hinder the possibility of adding lights. The Parks Department ist currently exploring other options, but has stated that it may be too costly for the time being.
The Parks Department has faced various obstacles and delays in expanding pickleball courts in Seattle, but it remains determined to enhance its recreation programs and services. The department continues to explore options and find ways to address the concerns of different groups and improve recreational opportunities for everyone.
You can read more about the progress and updates on the Parks Department Page.
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