All the tennis courts at Patch Reef Park Tennis Center will be resurfaced soon. But converting some courts for pickleball came up before funds were approved.
Work on 17 full courts and 4 ½ practice courts will start at the end of March or early April, said Melissa Dawson, facilities manager, Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District.
Sand washing up through cracks, especially during recent rainstorms, create trip-and-fall hazards, Dawson said. An unidentified player was already injured, she added. “We should do this now before somebody else gets hurt out there,” she said.
In an unusual move, safety issues led the board to approve immediate emergency funding. Dawson has been raising the issue and showing photos of cracks since September. The contract is for $138,787. Armor Courts in Delray Beach will do the work, Dawson said.
But before approving the funds, commissioners questioned whether some courts should be set aside for pickleball. “It’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S.,” said Paul Davidson, a new city recreation services superintendent. Boca’s pickleball ambassador Raul Travieso has already asked the city for more courts, said Briann Harms, district interim director.
“There are four courts planned for Hillsboro El Rio Park,” said Commissioner Craig Ehrnst.
The new park is under construction on 18th Street. But it won’t be open until the end of the year, said recreation superintendent Greg Stevens.
Commissioners questioned how many outdoor courts pickleball players really need. Hours and days were extended for indoor play in Sugar Sand Park’s field house, they were told. Dawson promised commissioners she would look into pickleball needs.
Park users will also notice fencing going up to begin work on three athletic fields. The district will start replacing the grass with artificial turf under a project approved in June 2017.
By Marci Shatzman