Pickleball courts approved by city council

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A pickleball court, similar to the above photo, will be located just north of the softball field on the north side of the walking bridge next to the railroad tracks on the south side of Guttenberg. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Guttenberg city officials and other community leaders have recognized the need to create opportunities for healthy living within our community. Studies have shown that physical activity can have a direct impact on our physical and mental health and well-being. Terry Moser, park board member, and his wife, Jane, grew up in Guttenberg. The couple has moved back to the area and is settling into retirement. They addressed city council members via video conferencing on Monday, Dec. 14, requesting approval for the installation of pickleball courts.

Pickleball history

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a brief ferry ride from Seattle, Wash. Three fathers – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum —  are credited with inventing the game in an effort to entertain their children who had become bored with their usual summertime activities. The sport has evolved since that time and has gained popularity throughout the United States and Canada as well as many European and Asian countries.  

How to play

Pickleball combines the elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is fun, social and can be easily played as a singles or doubles competition. The rules are simple and easy for beginners to learn. More experienced players can develop their skills into a quick, fast-paced competitive sport. Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net, using solid paddles made of wood or composite materials and a perforated polymer ball, much like a whiffle ball. All ages and skill levels can enjoy this sport. 

Terry and Jane shared their experience. They said, "The first time we played pickleball was about three years ago with a friend of ours from Michigan. He plays frequently, and turned us onto the sport and taught us the rules."

Shared enthusiasm

Their desire to introduce the sport to area residents was inspired by a trip to Kansas City. Jane commented, "We first started thinking about building a pickleball court in Guttenberg when we were in Kansas City playing pickleball with Terry's daughter and her husband.  The complex was new and had 12 courts. It was so popular – there were people waiting for an opportunity to play."

The couple gained enthusiasm. They noted, "We both really enjoyed the game from the very start. The court is a little smaller than a tennis court, so you don’t have to run as much. The rackets and balls are also more lightweight so it’s easier to volley. You can catch on to the game quickly, and it doesn’t take long to start playing well and working on your game."

Location and project details

The pickleball courts will be built on a corner of a large tract of land that was donated to the city by Meuser Lumber Company back in the early 1970s. It will share that tract with the south end soccer field and softball diamond. 

The initial cost of two pickleball courts and the surrounding fence will be part of Phase I, and will cost approximately $40,000. Depending on community interest and donations received, future phases would include the addition of lighting, an asphalt rest/waiting area with a picnic table, and possibly the construction of a third court if and when needed.

Terry explained, "After having conversations with many people, including the City of Asbury and the manager of the City of Dubuque Country Club, it has been recommended that we use a painted asphalt surface, which is easier on the knees and joints than cement.  Two courts are being planned and will be placed side by side. A tall fence will enclose the courts and a shorter fence will run between the two courts. The courts will face north/south to avoid the sun being in the eyes of the players." 

Health benefits

"Anyone young, or young-at-heart can play the game. Currently, 68 percent of pickleball players are above the age of 60. I’ve been told that the average age of a Guttenberg resident is 58," Terry mentioned. 

"Pickleball is the fastest growing sport because it can be played by everyone. It is easy to master and very low stress, making it popular among aging populations. It allows you to work on balance, agility, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination without putting excessive strain on your body. Pickleball is a wonderful alternative for older players who used to play tennis, but have physical limitations such as hip, shoulder, knee, or other joint problems," they added. 

When asked why they love pickleball, the couple replied, "We love it for the joy it brings to the person just learning the game, or the experienced veteran who has been playing for years. It can be played by all ages and ability levels and brings people together, forming a sense of community and friendship. We love it because it can make you a healthier, happier person.

Donations

Terry and Jane have agreed to take on general contractor duties and will use subcontractors to do most of the work. The City of Guttenberg is currently accepting private donations from any interested citizen, and applying for potential grant money. Please make checks payable to the City of Guttenberg, noting that it is a donation for the Pickleball Project. Checks can be mailed to City of Guttenberg at P.O. Box 580, Guttenberg, IA 52052, or dropped off at City Hall.

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