By Desiree Williams
Looking for a new way to exercise or relieve stress? That’s how Christine Perkins found pickleball three years ago.
Perkins, a Westfield resident, is a member of the Pickleball Gang at the Monon Community Center, a club with more than 200 members. However, as the game gains popularity, she said the MCC and the Carmel Racquet Club are beginning to reach capacity and cut playing time.
“Unfortunately, there are no outdoor public pickleball courts in Carmel, and Carmel has been slow in addressing the demand for pickleball,” Perkins said. “As a premier city, Carmel needs to include pickleball as a major attraction.”
Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation has heard the plea.
“There’s a very strong constituency,” CCPR Director Michael Klitzing said. “It’s a niche group, but it’s a very active niche group. That also demonstrates to us that if we actually construct pickleball courts, we have a high belief that they are going to be well used.”
The addition of pickleball courts and various other upgrades to the park system will be funded by bonds through the Clay Township Impact Program, totaling $21 million.
The department completed a physical assessment of each park to determine where and how to allocate the funds. Architects have drawn preliminary illustrations to present at public input meetings for Carey Grove, Flowing Well and Meadowlark parks.
Meadowlark Park is the proposed home for up to four outdoor pickleball courts.
“Since it’s centrally-located and large enough and has a relatively flat topography, it seemed like the perfect location to have our first outdoor pickleball courts,” Klitzing said.
A public meeting to gather information on upgrades to Meadowlark Park will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Monon Community Center East in Multipurpose Room C.
Klitzing said the projects for all three parks will be out for bid this winter with construction starting in February or March. The parks will be closed during construction and will reopen in fall 2020.
For updates on all department projects, visit carmelclayparks.com/reimagining-parks.