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Pickleball Expansion at James Park: Demand and Budget

Pickleball Expansion at James Park: The Finance and Budget Committee of Evanston convened to discuss a proposal to construct four new pickleball courts at James Park, amidst rising project costs. City Engineer Lara Biggs revealed that expenses have increased by $200,000 to $250,000 above the approved budget of $350,000. The committee deliberated over funding strategies and logistical challenges, including noise concerns and site suitability. Stakeholder feedback, particularly from the Parks and Recreation Board, highlighted the community’s demand for expanded recreational facilities.

Project Scope and Cost Considerations

Members of Evanston’s Finance and Budget Committee met on Monday to discuss plans for constructing new pickleball courts at James Park. City Engineer Lara Biggs outlined a significant increase in project costs, which now stand between $200,000 to $250,000 above the initial $350,000 budget approved last year. Exploring the possibility of expanding to six courts would further raise expenses by an estimated $550,000, bringing the total project cost to $900,000.

Lara Biggs mentioned, “When we looked at adding dedicated pickleball courts, there are challenges with that,” she added. “Pickleball is actually fairly loud to play. Staff is concerned about locating new pickleball courts close to residential areas. Those parks that are not small like Lovelace Park, James Park, are really, really programmed with quite a lot of uses, so there’s actually relatively little vacant space in the parks”

Location Challenges and Community Impact

Biggs highlighted challenges in finding suitable locations for the courts, particularly noting noise concerns associated with pickleball’s gameplay. With James Park already heavily programmed with various activities and limited vacant space, concerns about noise disturbance to nearby residential areas were discussed.

“Building six courts all at once is more economical than building four at this time and later expanding to six, however, building six courts requires enough space to impact facilities to the south, which will need to be modified. Therefore, building courts results in a higher cost per court.” -(Lara Biggs)

Community Input and Stakeholder Perspectives

Committee members discussed feedback from various stakeholders, including the Parks and Recreation Board’s preference for expanding to six courts due to high demand. Recent correspondence indicated a willingness to settle for four courts to avoid exceeding the budget. Committee member Leslie McMillan referenced neighboring communities like Wilmette, where sound barriers have been utilized to reduce noise from pickleball courts, suggesting potential solutions for Evanston.

Pickleball Expansion at James Park Balancing Demand and Budget

Alternative Solutions and Fiscal Responsibility

Amidst concerns over escalating costs, committee members explored alternative locations such as underutilized tennis courts. However, past attempts to convert these courts faced opposition, complicating efforts to find viable alternatives. Council Member Clare Kelly advocated for a comprehensive review of Evanston’s park infrastructure needs and fiscal priorities, urging a balanced approach to address community demands within budget constraints.

Decision and Next Steps

After deliberation, the committee voted 5-1 to recommend proceeding with the construction of four pickleball courts at James Park. This decision reflects a compromise between meeting community demand for recreational facilities and maintaining fiscal responsibility. The proposal now advances to the City Council for final consideration and approval, marking a pivotal step in enhancing recreational opportunities in Evanston while managing financial resources effectively.

News in Brief: Pickleball Expansion at James Park

Following extensive deliberations, Evanston’s Finance and Budget Committee voted 5-1 to recommend proceeding with four pickleball courts at James Park, a compromise solution amidst budgetary constraints. The decision reflects a cautious approach to meet community demands for recreational amenities while managing an unexpected cost increase. Committee members explored alternative locations and considered stakeholder input, including proposals to expand to six courts. The project now advances to the City Council for final approval, marking a significant step towards enhancing local recreation offerings. The committee’s decision underscores Evanston’s commitment to responsible fiscal management and community-driven planning in public infrastructure projects.

Also Read: Sussex YMCA Set to Open Dedicated Pickleball Center in Lafayette



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