Much to the dismay of Ketchum’s vocal pickleball community, who showed up in droves to Monday’s City Council meeting, the mixed-use tennis and pickleball court at Atkinson Park will remain the way it is and will not be converted to a full time pickleball layout.
“I don’t think the tennis community is decreasing enough to warrant us removing tennis courts. I would rather build new pickleball courts,” Councilmember Courtney Hamilton said. “So, as of now, I would rather leave it as a mixed use court.”
The council initially supported the idea of improving sight lines on the mixed use court with bright colored striping, but Park and Recreation Director John Kearney said that would likely just cause more confusion.
This subject drew an outpouring of public comment. The room was full, mostly with pickleball supporters.
“By nature, pickleball creates community. That’s not a throwaway line,” Dale Bates said. “You’re always changing partners and changing opponents, and it’s four people on a small court. I have a list of 85 people I can call and play with.”
Cooper Taylor said the same. The senior at The Community School said the largest problem with pickleball in this area is that there are too many players and not enough courts.
“Not just in the spring and fall, but in summer as well, it seems as if every single old person in the valley is playing pickleball all day,” he said. “Young players deserve a chance to play as well, and it seems crazy to me and my friends that Atkinson Park has tennis courts that are hardly ever used.”
Denise Decosta, a tennis player, offered a different perspective.
“Atkinson Park is the only place [in the North Valley] that you can play for free. I have been having to come up earlier and earlier to play because there are only two courts available most of the time. I would like to ask you to consider saving the mixed use court, we need it.”
Kurt Almquist, tennis coach at Gravity Fitness, teaches tennis at the Atkinson Park courts on occasion, too. He said that while both courts are often full, keeping tennis on the mixed use court is fair.
“I play tennis on a mixed use pickleball and tennis court at Gravity. It’s doable,” he said.
Hamilton cited her own past as a college tennis player who grew up playing at Atkinson Park when deciding where she landed on the issue.
“I thought about recusing myself from this item because my parents are so involved in the local pickleball community,” she said. “This is a first world problem, I’m happy to have this as a discussion. It’s a win-win … but I don’t think tennis has gone downhill so much that it’s worth having only two public tennis courts in the North Valley.”
“I’d hate to take away from youth tennis programs,” Councilmember Jim Slanetz said. He mentioned both his kids played youth tennis at Atkinson Park. Slanetz also said he hears the pickleball community when they say the combination striping is confusing.
“I’m really on the fence,” he said.
Slanetz also took the opportunity to make a point he has been known to make in the past: that Ketchum taxpayers are bearing the brunt of the cost here.
People from Sun Valley and the south valley “come up here and play on the courts, too, and are not contributing,” he said. “We do the soccer fields, we do the ice rink, we do everything, and the Ketchum tax payers are the ones that foot the bill.”
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Doesn't seem a wise use of taxpayer $ to tear up the beautiful courts the city built for a sport enjoyed by millions for a over a century around the world in order to replace them with whatever the recent fad activity is
The Council spent 1h22m on this. It was one of the longest periods of time they have spent on any decisions they have ever made. It gives you a good sense of where their priorities lie. And it also says something about our community. People turn out for their pickle ball courts but are totally absent for things like workforce housing, parking, zoning, LOT, water treatment facility, etc. I guess we get the government we deserve. No wonder this council acts as if no one is watching what they do. Because no one really is.
Welcome to the discussion.