Six pickleball courts OK’d to replace two tennis courts, per Park Ridge Park District

Park Ridge Park District commissioners greenlit a proposal Feb. 16 to convert two tennis courts into six pickleball courts at Northeast Park to accommodate the growing pickleball-playing population of the Park Ridge area.

According to estimates from the Park District staff, the project will cost just over $61,000. It would bring Northeast’s pickleball court tally up to seven. Currently, there is one dedicated pickleball court at the park, located behind Field Elementary School. Both the school and park are south of Oakton Street and east of Prospect Avenue.

In the memo to commissioners detailing the proposal, staff proposed using savings from the Maine Park roof replacement project to cover the expense of converting the tennis courts to pickleball courts. The district has already budgeted $215,914 to do resurfacing work at the Northeast Park courts. The cost of converting two tennis courts to pickleball use would be added to that line item.

“Taking advantage of enhancing this amenity while we are resurfacing the courts seems like a positive addition to the park, while also addressing the fast growing sport of pickleball,” the memo states.

District staff also said an earlier proposal would have replaced a tennis court at South Park with pickleball courts, which would have severely impacted existing lesson programs at South Park.

Commissioner Jerry Coyne said he supported the conversion as long as “we have a sense from some level of authority that we have adequate facilities for tennis and that this isn’t taking away something substantive from [tennis players].”

Staff assured commissioners that the plan would have minimal impact on the tennis-playing population of Park Ridge. Superintendent of Recreation April Armer said most tennis players use the district’s Hinkley Park for their games, while most pickleball players use Northeast Park.

“Hinkley is definitely our most popular current location [for tennis],” Armer said. “According to [Athletic Supervisor Jim Dihu] and the tennis affiliate, people really go to Hinkley [for tennis]. But the majority of the pickleballers come here.”

Armer said one of the two tennis players who give feedback to the district had been in support of the idea, while the second representative hadn’t yet replied.

Park Ridge Pickleball Club marketing manager Mary Szyjka said she thought the plan was “a great compromise for all that are involved.”

A pickleball court is significantly smaller than a tennis court, Szyjka said, so two pickleball courts can fit into one space for a tennis court. There are also different lines of play and a slightly lower net than a tennis net, she added.

Currently at Northeast Park, she said, “we only have one dedicated pickleball court which is on the outside of the tennis courts. But there are lines that are drawn on two of the tennis courts for pickleball.”

She said she is excited that the conversion to pickleball courts at Northeast Park will mean less taking down and setting up of nets on the dual-purpose courts for pickleball players.