Plans for a set of new pickleball courts at the Mill Creek Sportsplex on Tausick Way are underway and the Walla Walla Pickleball Association is seeking private donations to make it happen.
Demand has been so high for Pioneer Park’s six outdoor courts that players are being contacted by Walla Walla Parks & Rec not to come to the courts to play, said Nancy Kress, president of the Pickleball Association.
Rather than placing an eight-lot pickleplex at the originally proposed Howard-Tietan Park, the city opted for an expansion at the Mill Creek Sportsplex. The construction will add a second entrance / exit, increased parking and a new eight-lot pickleplex, Kress said.
Parks and Recreation Director Andy Coleman said additional parking and parking access will be added from Garrison Street.
âThis project will have far-reaching benefits beyond just pickleball,â he said.
Coleman said city council allocated $ 950,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project at its June 23 meeting.
âOf that amount, $ 200,000 is for pickleball fields and the rest of the funds are for improving parking on site.
âThe Pickleball Association raised $ 200,000 to reach their goal of $ 300,000 for the fields,â said Coleman. “If they are able to do that, it will provide $ 500,000 for the construction of the pickleball fields to include lights.”
âWe will soon be contracting with the city council to hire the design company for the project,â he said.
They plan to bid on the project in the spring of 2022, begin construction in the summer, and complete the project by the fall.
âRealizing a construction at Mill Creek Sportsplex that would benefit all sports, including softball, baseball and football, seemed like the right momentum to include an expansion of pickleball as well,â Kress said.
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, she said. The paddle-ball activity mixes pieces of badminton, table tennis and tennis. Two or four players hit a perforated polymer ball, much like a wiffle ball with round holes, on a net with paddles made of solid wood or composite material.
âThe tsunami of new players entering the sport is proof that Walla Walla is reflecting the national trend,â Kress said. âThere has never been a sport like pickleball that involves so many passionate players between the ages of 8 and 80, playing together in a relatively small area, enjoying the competition and socializing that characterizes the game. a player or one of the few left on the sidelines, you know that recreation is an asset to the community because it allows citizens to stay social, happy, healthy and sane.
âIt was the call for tourism and the inclusion of the pickleplex that allowed the city to qualify to use some of its COVID relief dollars for this project,â Kress said.
Lighting on the courts is a bonus, Kress said.
âThe lights will allow players to bypass the heat of the day and play evening and night as is the routine in the sun and heat of Arizona,â Kress said.
The lights will also extend play time when the days are shorter in spring, fall and winter.
Shading off the pitch is another feature WWPA hopes to include at the pickleplex. The area chosen at the southeast end of the multiplex is not shaded like at Pioneer Park.
âShaded structures will allow players and spectators to rest out of the pitch from the sun. Trees will be planted, but it will take a few years for their growth to generate useful shade, âKress said.
To donate to the project, go to ubne.ws/pickleball on Facebook, email [email protected] or write to the Walla Walla Pickleball Association, PO Box 2823, Walla Walla WA 99362.
âShow up in tennis shoes with a paddle and ball and you’ll be well on your way to finding a healthy addiction to a new sport for life,â Kress said.