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Pickleball court proposed at Hoberman tennis courts

LOCK HAVEN — Pickleball courts may be in Hoberman Park’s future.

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 council’s meeting Monday evening to discuss converting four tennis courts at Hoberman Park into eight pickleball courts.

Both men take part in a pickleball club, which includes 50 members, and said the tennis courts are in bad condition and under utilized.

Haffley and his wife, Sherry, lead the group which meets at different locations in Clinton and Centre counties to play. Haffley told council they average between 27-28 players each meeting.

The pair attended the meeting after council received an email from pickleball team member Dr. Jenny Boyle. Boyle said:

“I am a retired local who has joined the pickleball craze. We have a group lead by Ron and Sherry Haffley with dozens of people who love to play this game. Unfortunately, we do not have enough facilities to accommodate all of the interested players.

“There are tennis courts over in Hoberman Field that could be converted into eight pickleball courts. I am wondering if monies are available and/or if we could apply for 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 felt it would be a project worth researching.

“I’ve watched it and it looks like fun. There is interest… I’ve gotten comments about it, too,” 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 spoke with Haffley previously about the proposed pickleball courts.

“These people are well respected in the community. This is what we’re looking for,” Byerly said.

Following his discussion he spoke with City Planner Abbey Roberts and Public Works Director Tony Stopper.

Byerly said Stopper and his department are interested in assisting with the project, whether temporary repairs or complete resurfacing of the project. However, it isn’t in the budget for 2021.

Losing the four tennis courts wouldn’t be detrimental to the sport in the area, Long said. “It’s not like there aren’t other places that have access to tennis courts.”

Roberts told council staff are beginning the preliminary designs for Hoberman Park that the courts could be included in. Construction wouldn’t begin until 2023 or 2024 howeve, he said.

Haffley told council he spoke with an area contractor who said paving over the courts — a 120-feet by 160-feet space — would cost about $36,000.

“If we could do that, we could possibly paint lines and use portable nets until 3-4 years down the road,” he said.

Councilman Alex Di Costanzo asked if the city could complete minor repairs to make the courts temporarily playable.

“That’s a possibility, if they could just make it playable,” Haffley said.

Haffley asked if council could accept donations to the project to which the majority of council replied “we can’t do that, you can.”

Haffley and Ballat said the pickleball group could look into raising funds themselves and come to council in the future for approval of the project.

City Manager Gregory Wilson told the pair to keep in contact with Community Life Director Kasey Campbell. He added the project itself would also involve Stopper and Roberts if grants were utilized.

Roberts told council USA Pickleball has a small grant for equipment available and DCNR and DCED may have grants that could be used for the project as well.

Stevenson said the project could possibly be forwarded to the city’s recreation committee as well for further review.

“It’s an under utilized space and, speaking for myself, I’d love to see it,” Long said of the project. “Start working with Kasey and let’s see where it goes.”

No action item was taken regarding the possible project.

All members of council were present for Monday’s meeting held in council chambers and livestreamed on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Council will hold its next meeting on Monday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.

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