Elkader City Park project will focus on tennis, pickleball courts

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


It’s been several years since talk began about rehabilitating aspects of the Elkader City Park, and recently those conversations have yielded some results. Most notable is the current project focused on revitalizing the tennis courts, revamping them for dual purpose use, which would also include the addition of a pickleball court. 


According to Elkader City Administrator Jennifer Cowsert, the motivation behind the project is as basic as “people in town and campers who have an interest in being able to play tennis again.” As of now, that’s the only location to play tennis. 


While Cowsert noted there has been additional talk about removing and replacing the entire court, the current project is simply rehabbing it, as a full overhaul would require more fundraising for a project that is estimated to cost about $44,000. That is just about covered by funding awards received, including over $32,000 from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation, as well as $1,500 from the Cornerstone Foundation, $5,000 from the McElroy Grant and $3,000 from the Gifford Family Foundation. 


Cowsert stated that, for just the rehab, “they need to resurface with an asphalt lift, paint and install new nets,” with an anticipated completion date of summer 2023. 


The benefits of this project are numerous according to Cowsert, who listed providing another option for people to be active, while adding more variety to the city park area. Additionally, Cowsert expects some people will learn pickleball and tennis since it will be more available and both are sports that can be played throughout one’s life. 


“Pickleball is great because it is a multigenerational sport and grandparents can play with their grandkids, and learning lifelong sports is good because it will hopefully keep people active their whole life,” Cowsert said. 


There is also the hope it will draw more people to the campground by providing another activity for them when they consider where to camp. The new courts would add on to the already existing swimming pool, exercise trail, disc golf, playground, easy access to the river and canoe/kayak rental and access to the trails, both of which are right across the street from Elkader City Park.


There is also the fact Central has a unit on pickleball. This would be an outside venue for them to play and Cowsert noted how, “In the future, the school may include a tennis unit if there is a place to play tennis outside of the school.”


When it comes to maintaining the courts after the project is finished, Cowsert stated it would fall to the city. Costs associated with that would come out of the normal park operating budget. 


Cowsert suggested equipment, especially tennis and pickleball racquets, could be available to be checked out at the concession stand at the pool, which is similar to what has been done in the past with discs for the disc golf course. However, this is still in the planning stages and nothing has been finalized. 


While that might not be in the future for the park, replacing the playground equipment is something that will surely follow in the coming months, as rehabilitation efforts around the city are in full effect to attract campers and visitors to the area, an element of the project that resonated with councilmember Eric Grau.


“I am very much in support of this. This town needs as many recreational possibilities as possible, both for its residents and for campground visitors,” he said.


Councilmember Deb Schmidt stated she is “Just glad it’s being upgraded,” before adding, “So many visitors to this area can see this from Highway 13 and it is an eye sore. It reflects our city and its beauty. I think it brings a variety of outdoor entertainment to Elkader.”


Cowsert said the grassroots efforts have the full support of the city, which encouraged the fundraising efforts.

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