By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The good news is that Chatham-Kent has received funding for 10 new courts for the wildly popular sport of pickleball.
The bad new is many residents living near a Chatham park that’s designated to receive six of the 10 courts don’t want it.
Linda McCormick is one of those neighbours and she’s questioning the wisdom of the municipality’s decision of placing the courts in quiet Ellis Park on Chatham’s north side.
The long-time Lancefield Place resident said the neighbours of the park don’t want Chatham-Kent to put the courts there.
“People are pretty upset,” McCormick said in a recent interview. “This park is very quiet and people don’t want the neighbourhood to change.”
McCormick said neighbours living near Ellis Park want it to be maintained as a peaceful and quiet green space.
She’s hopeful the pickleball courts aren’t a done deal.
“There are better places for it,” McCormick added. She cited nearby Kingston Park as a better fit, noting the much larger park has parking and washroom facilities.
Ellis Park has neither, McCormick noted, adding it’s her understanding trees will have to be cut down to accommodate the new courts.
“Chatham-Kent already doesn’t have as many trees as we need,” she said.
McCormick said she appreciates the fact pickleball is a popular pastime and citizens want the facilities, but believes Ellis Park is a poor choice.
Ten new pickleball courts are in the works for the municipality, thanks to a $430,000 Community Building Grant received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The money will cover 80 per cent of the project costs.
Along with the six courts at Ellis Park, Jaycee Park in Wallaceburg is getting two courts and Jackson Park in Dresden will also be home to two new courts.
The grant requires the project be completed on municipal land and that the construction be a new build.
Existing pickleball or tennis courts are not eligible for the funding.
A survey on the pickleball issue on Let’s Talk CK, located on the municipal webpage is ongoing until April 18.
There’s a further complication. Some of Chatham-Kent’s rural communities feel they have been snubbed in the pickleball court location process. As a result, South Kent. Coun. Trevor Thompson has put a motion to council that would see pickleball courts located in the municipality’s rural communities.