LOCK HAVEN – Pickleball courts may be in the future of Hoberman Park.
The sport of paddling, which combines elements of badminton, table tennis and tennis, is popular among city and county residents, according to Paul Ballat and Ron Haffley.
Haffley and Ballat attended the board meeting on Monday night to discuss converting four tennis courts in Hoberman Park to eight pickleball courts.
Both men participate in a pickleball club, which has 50 members, and said the tennis courts are in poor condition and underused.
Haffley and his wife, Sherry, lead the group which meets at different locations in Clinton and Center counties to perform. Haffley told the board they average between 27 and 28 players in each game.
The duo attended the meeting after the board received an email from Dr. Jenny Boyle, a member of the pickleball team. Boyle said:
“I’m a retired local who has joined the pickleball craze. We have a group led by Ron and Sherry Haffley with dozens of people who enjoy playing this game. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough facilities to accommodate all interested players.
“There are tennis courts at Hoberman Field that could be converted to eight pickleball courts. I wonder if funds are available and / or if we could ask for money to rehabilitate these courts? Our players are active members of the community and would appreciate any information you could provide.
City Councilor Steve Stevenson said he thought it would be a project worth considering.
“I watched it and it looks funny. There is interest… I have also received comments on this subject ”, Stevenson said.
Mayor Joel Long agreed with Stevenson, adding that the project would take time. He said improvements to Hoberman Park are included in the city’s five-year plan.
Councilor Douglas Byerly said he had previously spoken with Haffley about the proposed pickleball courts.
“These people are highly respected in the community. This is what we are looking for ”, said Byerly.
After his discussion, he spoke to town planner Abbey Roberts and public works manager Tony Stopper.
Byerly said Stopper and his department are interested in helping the project, whether it’s temporary repairs or a complete resurfacing of the project. However, it is not in the budget for 2021.
Losing all four tennis courts would not be detrimental to sport in the region, Long said. “It’s not like there aren’t other places that have access to tennis courts.”
Roberts said council staff are starting preliminary designs for Hoberman Park in which the courts could be included. However, construction wouldn’t start until 2023 or 2024, he said.
Haffley told the council he spoke to a local contractor who said paving the courts – a space of 120 feet by 160 feet – would cost around $ 36,000.
“If we could do that, we could eventually paint lines and use portable nets up to 3-4 years later,” he said.
City councilor Alex Di Costanzo asked if the city could make minor repairs to make the courts temporarily playable.
“It’s a possibility, if they could just make it playable”, Haffley said.
Haffley asked if the board could accept donations to the project to which the majority of the board responded “We can’t do this, you can.”
Haffley and Ballat said the pickleball group may look to fundraise themselves and come to council in the future for project approval.
City Manager Gregory Wilson told the couple to keep in touch with Director of Community Life Kasey Campbell. He added that the project itself would also involve Stopper and Roberts if the grants were used.
Roberts told the board that USA Pickleball had a small grant for the equipment available and that DCNR and DCED might also have grants that could be used for the project as well.
Stevenson said the project could also be referred to the city’s recreation committee for further review.
“It’s an underutilized space and, for my part, I would love to see it” Long said of the project. “Start working with Kasey and let’s see where it goes. “
No action has been taken regarding the possible project.
All council members were in attendance for Monday’s meeting which was held in the council chamber and streamed live on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
The council will hold its next meeting on Monday, August 23 at 7 p.m.