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Durango getting creative to solve the city’s pickleball problem

Residents want outdoor courts, but finding a location has been tricky
Durango Parks and Recreation will discuss some of the options its considering to provide residents with outdoor pickleball courts at Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The city of Durango is exploring options for outdoor pickleball courts after an outpouring of community support for the fast-growing sport.

In the past month, the city has received a number of public comments from people around town who love pickleball and want to see the city provide outdoor courts.

Currently, pickleball players in Durango can play at the Durango Community Recreation Center, but no outdoor options exist locally.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department plans to have a discussion at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Wednesday night about where it might be able to start the development of pickleball courts.

“Staff has been looking at various options, and we’re going to be talking about some of those,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum. “There’s been a few areas that we’ve been looking at. We haven’t gone through and done full vetting on the sites.”

The city planned to have a pickleball court developed at Three Springs, but the project ran into some trouble with the proposed location of the courts regarding access and water.

“There is no road and there’s no water out where the courts were planned, so the cost to develop those courts, I think, made the advisory board step back and put more research into how to make that happen,” said Durango Mayor Kim Baxter.

However, Nycum said the city is still working with developers at Three Springs to try to get courts made.

Baxter said the city is taking an inventory of some of its properties, like a parking lot across the street from the public library, as possible locations for pickleball. Nycum mentioned a piece of property that the city leases at Fort Lewis College as a possible location for courts.

“It’s a variety of different places we’re looking at. From parking lots for temporary courts to vacant lots. Some of them don’t make sense, and some of them are worth researching,” Nycum said.

Baxter said the Southwest Colorado Pickleball Association is reaching out to James Coleman, the managing partner of Mountain Capital Partners, which owns Purgatory Resort, to see if space for public pickleball courts may be available at Mercury Village, just south of the Durango Mall. Coleman purchased the Mercury Village property last month.

“He (Coleman) happens to be a pickleball player, so the pickleball group and Ture are hoping to speak to him about a piece of property next to the Mercury Payments System building that they own that might be possible,” Baxter said.

Efforts to reach Coleman or his spokespeople were not immediately successful Monday.

Baxter said she is supportive of finding outdoor spaces where pickleball players can play, saying the sport has increased benefit with COVID-19 remaining a concern.

“I think it’s good for the physical health of our community members, but also the mental and social health,” she said. “Particularly in this time of COVID-19 where outdoor recreation is something you do without being as concerned.”

In the past, the city has worked with the school district to allow for pickleball at Needham Elementary School and Durango High School, but residents in the area complained about the noise of the sport. Similarly, the city does not allow pickleball on any of its public tennis courts because of noise concerns.

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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