Oak Harbor city council mulls pickleball puzzle

Oak Harbor city staff are interested in building pickleball courts on city property in the future.

Oak Harbor city staff members are interested in building pickleball courts on city property some time in the future.

At Wednesday’s city council workshop, Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith said community feedback over the last 10 years has “consistently prioritized more pickleball courts.”

In 2019, the city’s parks division budgeted for the construction of two pickleball courts in Neil Park for $80,000. Of that, $50,000 was sourced from real estate excise tax funds. The remaining balance was meant to be covered through donations, but no money was ever raised. Smith said he did not know what happened to the fundraising plans.

In 2021, after consultation with city staff, pickleball club leadership and Oak Harbor public schools, the parks division redirected $50,000 towards refurbishing the existing pickleball courts located at the Oak Harbor School District’s Rotary Park, Smith said.

Smith said refurbishing the courts would involve removal of root intrusion around the courts, asphalt resurfacing, painting new courts lines and adding two new courts.

He explained that the city entered a memorandum of understanding with the school district to improve the courts and contractors were contacted to provide cost estimates in the early summer and late spring of last year.

“Nothing really happened after that,” Smith said. “It kind of went silent. I know we had some turnover in the parks division around that time.”

He said with the creation of the parks and recreation department, all capital project statuses and funding have been reevaluated.

The cost estimate of the project is now $190,000, with fencing making up approximately half the cost.

“Even without fencing, the cost to refurbish the school district’s courts at Rotary Park is at least $95,000, which exceeds the original city project at Neil Park,” Smith said.

He presented a list of options moving forward. The first was to terminate the memorandum of understanding with the district and instead build new courts on city-owned property, which he estimated would cost about $200,000.

The second option was to give the project and the $50,000 to the school district. The third option was to appropriate additional funding to complete the project for the district but without the fence.

“A lot of the issues around the cost has to do with the location of it,” Smith said. “It’s in a very heavily treed area and there’s a lot of root infiltration with those courts which is breaking them up.”

He said the needles that drop on the court are acidic and ruin the surface.

Councilmembers Shane Hoffmire, Jim Woessner, Bryan Stucky and Eric Marshall all expressed that they did not want to spend $190,000 on property the city did not own.

Smith said the recommendation from the Parks Board was also to terminate the current project and explore ways of appropriating additional funding to build new courts on city property. Smith said he would work on something official to bring to a future city council meeting.

“This discussion definitely isn’t a one and done project,” Smith said. “I think we need to talk about the systematic implementation of building facilities like this throughout our park system.”