LOCK HAVEN – Pickleball courts could be in the future of Hoberman Park.
The paddle sport, 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 Monday night’s council meeting to discuss converting four tennis courts at Hoberman Park into 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 band which meets at different locations in Clinton and Central Counties to play. Haffley told the board they average between 27 and 28 players each game.
The couple attended the meeting after the council received an email from pickleball team member Dr Jenny Boyle. Boyl said:
“I am a local retiree 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 into eight pickleball courts. I wonder if funds are available and/or if we could request money to rehabilitate these courts? Our players are active members of the community and would appreciate any information you can provide.
Councilman Steve Stevenson said he thought it would be a project worth looking into.
“I watched it and it looks fun. There is interest…I have also received comments on this”, Stevenson said.
Mayor Joel Long agreed with Stevenson, adding that the project would take time. He said Hoberman Park improvements are included in the city’s five-year plan.
Councilman Douglas Byerly said he has already spoken with Haffley about the proposed pickleball courts.
“These people are highly respected in the community. That’s what we’re looking for.” Byerly said.
After his discussion, he spoke with town planner Abbey Roberts and director of public works Tony Stopper.
Byerly said Stopper and his department want to be involved in the project, whether it’s temporary repairs or a complete resurfacing of the project. However, it’s not in the budget for 2021.
The loss of the four tennis courts would not be detrimental to sport in the area, Long said. “It’s not like there aren’t other places that have access to tennis courts.”
Roberts said council staff are beginning preliminary designs for Hoberman Park in which the courts could be included. Construction would not begin until 2023 or 2024, however, he said.
Haffley told the council he spoke to a local contractor who said paving the courts – a 120ft by 160ft space – would cost around $36,000.
“If we could do that, maybe we could paint lines and use portable nets up to 3-4 years later,” he said.
Councilman 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,” said Haffley.
Haffley asked if council could accept donations for the project to which the majority of council responded “we can’t do that, you can.”
Haffley and Ballat said the pickleball group may consider fundraising itself and run for council in the future to endorse the project.
City Manager Gregory Wilson told the couple to stay in touch with Community Life Manager Kasey Campbell. He added that the project itself would also involve Stopper and Roberts if grants were used.
Roberts told the board that USA Pickleball has a small grant for equipment available and that DCNR and DCED may also have grants that could be used for the project.
Stevenson said the project could also be forwarded to the city’s recreation committee for further consideration.
“It’s an underutilized space and I, for one, would love to see it,” Long said of the project. “Start working with Kasey and let’s see where it leads.”
No action has been taken on the possible project.
All council members were in attendance for Monday’s meeting held in council chambers and streamed live on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
The council will hold its next meeting on Monday, August 23 at 7:00 p.m.