The Winamac Park Board still isn’t ready to install new pickleball courts in the Town Park, but a decision about whether the project should move ahead will come next month. The park board has discussed converting the remaining tennis court into two additional pickleball courts, to handle growing demand. Meanwhile, a new tennis court could be built east of the current one, but such a project could come at a significant cost.
During last week’s park board meeting, member Jon Chapman noted that people who want to play tennis could still use the courts at Eastern Pulaski Schools. “I called the superintendent who told me those tennis courts will be there for at least five or six more years, and if he’s still the superintendent when they have that project ready to go, he would like to see two new tennis courts,” Chapman said. “So there would be a place for people to play tennis. They are not lit. It’s light until nine o’clock at night right now. It’s going to be light at 10 o’clock throughout the summer. I don’t know that we need to spend the extra money to extend any courts.”
But board member Pat Bawcum was concerned that removing the park’s tennis courts would send residents the wrong message. “What I’ve heard – and this is not to offend anyone – is that the pickleball courts, they have no problem with them, but it’s just a set number of people that play there, and it’s people that sort of know each other and they don’t feel comfortable doing that,” she said. “They think it’s just a group that’s pushing it.” Board member Chris Schramm also expressed concern about removing a sport from the Town Park, even if facilities are available at the school.
But Chapman was worried that out-of-town visitors who make the trip to Winamac to play on its pickleball courts will find them full and never come back again. “Let me get this right: having four tennis courts at the school that are free and 50 people that play pickleball in Winamac and you can only play eight at a time, it doesn’t make sense to add two more courts?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t have no problem adding the two courts,” Bawcum replied. “I said my problem is taking away the tennis court.” She added that people often don’t think about going to the school to play tennis.
Board members also noted that they already have plenty to focus on this year, with the upcoming restroom and playground upgrades. However, Park Board President Courtney Poor said he plans to call for a vote next month, to see in board members would accept the project, at least in principle. If they agree to proceed, Park Manager Dave DeLorenzo would start looking into the potential cost of adding a tennis court and turning the existing one into more pickleball courts.