Bethel Park considering adding Pickelball court

Published Aug 4, 2014 at 9:24 am (Updated Aug 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm)

A Pickleball court is among the items on Bethel Park Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services Board member’s recommendation list, board Chairman Jim Gastgeb told council members.

Pickleball, which is played on a court similar to a badminton court, is increasing in popularity, Gastgeb explained.

“It’s really big in Florida,” said Councilman Lorrie Gibbons.

The game is already being played at the Community Center on Park Avenue, but board members believe there is a need for more courts and are recommending removing the dek hockey rink at Simmons Park to make more space for Pickleball. “It’s not being used for dek hockey,” Gastgeb said.

More room for the game, where players use paddles to hit a whiffle ball, was just one of many needs board members discovered during their survey of the municipality’s recreational facilities, he said.

Gibbons, council liaison to the rec board, said the board was asked to review the community’s existing parks and recreational facilities and to recommend the best way to spend $300,000 garnered from the sale of 15 acres of unused land at Millennium Park to the owners of Cool Springs Golf Center.

In addition, the municipality has a applied for a $40,000 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Recreation and Conservation grant to fund a consultant’s study and recommendation for ways to improve its recreational facilities.

It is hoped that study will generate grants and more funding for improvements, Gibbons said.

“Let’s get the neighbors involved,” said Gastgeb, explaining that by forming a “Friends of Bethel Park” group the board hopes to get residents interested in improving and maintaining their local parks.

According to Gastgeb, Village Green, located near Village Square shopping center, is the most outdated, but all the neighborhood parks and playgrounds need to be updated. Board members would like to see rubber surfaces installed to replace the wood chips currently used around swings and slides.

As part of their survey, board members also researched innovations such as an artificial year-round ice skating surface. The option is very costly and would not be feasible with the close proximity of the rinks at Bladerunners and South Park, council members decided.

However, a demonstration rink will be displayed at Bethel Park Community Day next month.

Another innovation, which is gaining popularity, are spray parks where children can play under water which sprays from the ground.

Councilman Mark O’Brien nixed that idea, citing information about the costs to maintain The City of Pittsburgh spray parks.

Gastgeb also discussed the installation of a “sports court,” a multi-sport surface that could be used, for among other things, shuffleboard and volleyball, at Millenium Park.

Bethel Park officials expect to learn if they have been approved for the grant by early fall.

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