Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

19 Jan 2022

Pickleball exclusion from tennis courts & lack of outdoor court funding a cultural disagreement

Posted by Adam Howell


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Pickleball players have been excluded from sharing tennis courts in Durango by people who disagree with the cultural validity of the sport, according to the President of Southwest Colorado Pickleball Association (SWCPA).

Needham Pickleball Courts grand opening. Photo courtesy of Jacob Fillion.

Max Paustian, the President of SWCPA and several other players shared similar perspectives about how they were treated when trying to share Durango’s public tennis courts.

Given the similarity between tennis courts and the lacking pickleball courts, the Association thought that their sport would be welcome.

At first, pickleball players used the Needham Elementary School Tennis in 2019 and 2020, said Paustion.

Owned by the Durango School District 9-R, the public courts at Needham were a centralized location and conveniently located.

Then, on September 18, 2020 when Paustian and a friend were playing there around 10:30 a.m., an irate neighbor came out and told them that they were too noisy, said Paustian.

Alarmingly, the neighbor asked them to leave, telling them that their sport was silly, Paustian said.

Before leaving the public property, both the neighbor and Paustian’s friend ended up calling the police, who responded, he said.

No arrests were made.

Shortly after school officials learned of the incident, someone from the school district locked the gate to the tennis courts.


2020 tournament at Durango High School

Durango School District 9-R has gone way out of their way to accommodate the pickleball game community, said Paustian.

Pickleball at DHS. Photo courtesy of Jacob Fillion.

For example, pickleball games were allowed on 2 of the tennis courts at Durango High School the following summer after the gates were locked at Needham.

When District 9-R allowed the pickleball players to have a tournament at Durango High School, they gave over half of their profits to District 9-R, roughly $1,500 dollars, he said.

“Regarding the DHS courts, from the beginning we were never welcomed by the tennis players at DHS,” said Paustian. “The tennis community claims we damaged the courts beyond the ‘ghost lines’ at DHS.  This simply is not true. As approved by DHS, we did place expensive no residue tape (Gaffers tape) on 2 of the 6 tennis courts to outline 4 pickleball courts. We had used this same tape when we held a pickleball tournament at DHS and it left no ‘ghost lines’. But when we placed this tape on the courts for an extended period (approx 3 months) it did leave ‘ghost lines’.”

“We purchased isopropyl alcohol, scrub brushes, and had about 20 people hand scrub the courts. In addition we power washed the courts. The ‘ghost lines’ were much reduced but not 100% eliminated. We offered more than once to meet with the unhappy tennis folks to discuss the ghost lines and received no reply.”

“Then Ryan Knorr told us DHS was considering resurfacing the courts and asked if we would help pay for the long needed resurfacing of the DHS courts. (All 6 of the courts were worn out.) I asked Ryan if pickleball would be allowed post resurfacing and never received an answer and no further discussion took place. Then ‘out of the blue’, resurfacing took place and Ryan told us no ‘non tennis’ activity would be allowed. No further explanation was given,” said Paustian.

“Needless to say, we’d love to be able play pickleball again at DHS,” he said.

“It seems like our only hope for public outdoor pickleball play in Durango in 2022 is sharing tennis courts at DHS and/or the FLC tennis courts,” said Paustian.

DHS courts. Photo courtesy of Jacob Fillion.

Pickleball at DHS. Photo courtesy of Jacob Fillion.

Durango School District 9R Athletic Director Ryan Knorr failed to respond to my email and voicemail message.


Communities with tennis courts that are multi-purposed for pickleball games

Multiple tennis courts in surrounding communities have been lined for pickleball and tennis.

North of Durango, Dalton Ranch apparently has tennis courts that have been multi purposed and lined to also allow pickleball.

South of Durango, the towns of Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington have tennis courts that are striped for pickleball games, as well.

At the Farmington Sports Complex, for example, four tennis courts are double lined for 8 Pickleball courts. Players have to bring their own paddles, nets, and balls.

Also, the city of Colorado Springs also has several tennis courts that are striped for pickleball.

  • Wildflower Park–1 Public Dual Striped Tennis Court, 980 Nolte Drive West & Trailmark Loop, Colorado Springs, CO 80916
  • Westmoor Park–2 Public Tennis Courts striped for pickleball
  • Wasson High School–2 Dual Striped Tennis Courts
  • Portal Park–4 courts dually lined for tennis and pickleball

Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum said that it was his understanding that officials at Fort Lewis College did not want to multi purpose any tennis courts at Smith Sports Complex. The City of Durango leases the Smith Complex property from the Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees, Nycum said.

Fort Lewis College Vice President for Finance & Administration Steve Schwartz failed to reply to an email and a phone call seeking comment about the tennis courts at Fort Lewis College.

SWCPA President Max Paustian said that he will continue to ask why the courts at Smith Sports Complex cannot be shared with pickleball players since the location makes sense.

“This sort of–like you say–cultural situation between pickleball players and tennis players–it’s not unusual. This happens commonly around the country. In many places there’s a compromise reached. That’s what I’d like to see here is some sort of compromise reached.”

Tennis courts multipurposed for pickleball in Farmington, N.M. Photo courtesy of Max Paustian.

Tennis courts multipurposed for pickleball in Farmington, N.M. Photo courtesy of Max Paustian.

Pickle ball court lines on basketball court at Santa Rita Park

SWCPA President Max Paustian had helped convince previous Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz and her staff to include lines for a pickleball court on the new basketball court at Santa Rita Park. Moreover, he recommended how the court should be laid out, he said.

Instead of the long axis of the pickleball court being laid out along the long axis of the basketball court, it was installed perpindicular to the long axis of the basketball court.

As a result, Paustian said that the City’s new pickleball court on the basketball court at Santa Rita Park is a safety hazard due to inadequate surface behind the baselines. The drop off and soft surface at the end of the slab could pose a tripping hazard during games, he said.

Parks and Recreation Board also partly to blame for exclusion

Pickleball games being excluded from most outdoor facilities in Durango is also a result of those courts being lower on the funding priority list of city officials.

As a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, I am partly to blame for not prioritizing the development of these outdoor pickleball courts in the near term.

With the increase in costs for construction and materials, pickleball courts did not fit into the latest tetrus of budgetary allowance for the capital improvement projects this year. As a board, we postponed funding for those courts.

I am sorry.

However, Nycum is doing some research on whether it would be feasible to build some pickleball courts on land that’s currently occupied by parking spaces at the Smith Sports Complex at Fort Lewis College.

When more information about this idea becomes available it will be published in a new post on this blog.

Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.


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2 Responses to “Pickleball exclusion from tennis courts & lack of outdoor court funding a cultural disagreement”

  1. Really enjoy your blog. Need to change my email address from laurahawk@animas.net to laurahawk46@gmail.com. Thanks. Laura Hawk

     

    Laura Hawk

  2. That’s great, Laura. I am unable to change the email address that you are subscribed to. My dashboard won’t let me. You will have to subscribe again using your new email address. You can probably cancel your subscription to your old email address.

     

    Adam Howell

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