Local pickleball fans are in luck.
Ridgecrest City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a contract with Willdan Engineering to oversee a $217,073 package of improvements to the Leroy Jackson Sports Complex, including the construction of three of the six pickleball courts and of tennis.
Mayor Eric Bruen and council members Peggy Breeden, Scott Hayman and Solomon Rajaratnam supported the improvements. Council member Kyle Blades was absent.
“I’m delighted with this, it’s a golden opportunity for us to spend dollars that maybe weren’t necessarily available, but now [are]”, Breeden said before adding, “I still don’t know what pickleball is.
“My observation is more of slower paced tennis,” said parks and recreation director Nerissa Wegener. “It’s getting really popular.”
Pickleball dates back to 1965, when it is said to have been invented by three Bainbridge Island fathers to give their children something new to do during summer vacation. It originally used handmade equipment, but has become a popular international sport, according to usapickleball.org
The difference between normal tennis courts and combo courts is mostly in the painted lines, because pickleball only uses half a tennis court, Wegener said Thursday. One and a half tennis courts are currently painted with pickleball markings, but the project will involve upgrading, modernizing, repainting and expanding.
The courts will also be lit.
The project will be funded with part of the $1.8 million the city received in February from the Caltrans Clean California Grant, Wegener said. The city has already received a $473,000 advance, according to public works director Travis Reed.
The tennis court improvements will also use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act in addition to the Clean California Grant according to Wegener. ARPA will be used for the resurfacing, repair and painting of the six tennis courts. California’s own grant will be used for court lighting.
The resolution approved Wednesday is to hire Willdan to assist with project management and design for the administration of the Clean California grant. As part of the contract, Willdan will also handle design and project management as well as a bid for the resurfacing, repair and painting of the tennis courts – which will be funded by ARPA, according to Wegener Thursday.
In addition to improving the tennis courts, the project includes amenities such as the completion of a solar-lit walking path with shaded seating, the addition of a drinking fountain and more trash cans, receptacles for recycling and composting, adding trees and plants and repairing ADA improvements.
For more on pickleball, see https://usapickleball.org/