Picklers is coming off a key victory in the ongoing turf war between Wichita’s pickleball and tennis communities over use of city park facilities.
The Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved the conversion of two tennis courts in Edgemoor Park into six more pickleball courts.
Parks and Recreation manager Troy Houtman said the problem with the six existing pickleball courts on Edgemoor is that there are no lights on the pitch, which limits their use in the evening.
“Playing under the lights just extends the playability,” Houtman told the board.
Installing court lights for existing pickleball facilities would cost at least $140,000, Houtman said, making it more cost-effective to convert two of the park’s six tennis courts that are already equipped with lights.
Community group Light Up Edgemoor raised $27,000 for the project. These funds are matched by the Wichita Parks Foundation. The city’s parks board approved the design plan for the new courts in August.
“The demand for pickleball is a tidal wave. It’s overwhelming right now,” Houtman said. The city’s $3 million, 20-court pickleplex is set to open in south Wichita in 2024.
Council member Maggie Ballard voted against the proposed Edgemoor Courthouse conversion.
“As a tennis player, I just want to make sure that we don’t saturate the city and kick out some of our tennis players, especially the young ones,” she said.
The Wichita Classic School, a K-12 nonprofit organization in east Wichita, has middle and high school tennis teams that practice on Edgemoor courts six months a year. .
“I just have a hard time getting the courts off of the kids using the courts,” Ballard said.
Houtman said his department suggested teams could use the court facilities at Riverside or McAdams Parks.
“They were a bit frustrated because of the distance they would have to travel,” Houtman said. “But there are other opportunities for tennis courts. We can work with the school district because each of the high schools has tennis courts.
Houtman said his department has not forgotten about tennis fans, many of whom have called on the park board not to go ahead with the Edgemoor project.
“The Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to finding opportunities to support both tennis and pickleball,” Houtman said, noting that the city plans to resurface all six existing tennis courts at McAdams Park. in 2023.
“These will be the best courts in town when we’re done,” Houtman said.
This story was originally published November 1, 2022 1:18 p.m.