Smiths Falls Youth Arena ‘may be an option’ for current pickleball needs

Smiths Falls Youth Arena
Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: May 24, 2024

The Smiths Falls Pickleball League is hopeful it can work with the town to enhance the game for their members – and any new participants who would like to join. 

They don’t have enough courts for their current membership, which has reached about 100 participants. 

Following a plea at a recent council meeting looking for more space, the pickleball club’s concerns were heard by staff. 

Stephanie Clark, the town’s director of community services, told this publication on May 23, that they will monitor how quickly the sport is growing. 

“Any new indoor facility will likely need to be multi-use, and will only come as a result of a strong business case indicating community need in conjunction with affordability,” she said. “At this time, the town is not undertaking a needs assessment for a new indoor sports facility, however we are advancing the feasibility study for the current Youth Arena.”

Clark said while it’s difficult to say what the results of this study will be, she’s said it will likely shed some light on the upcoming landscape of indoor recreation al infrastructure for the community.

“Unfortunately, costs for such an undertaking (like building an indoor sport court) are significant, and while we would certainly work with community groups to help find funding, this type of space would be a significant investment of both capital and operational dollars from the town,” Clark indicated. 

The town has a Parks and Recreation Master Plan which is the guiding document for the town, as it relates to the management of existing and the development of new infrastructure in the community. It does not call for a new pickleball facility at this time, but they’re watching the trends, Clark said. 

The Smiths Falls Pickleball Club.
The Smiths Falls Pickleball Club. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.

“Additionally, while the pickleball group utilizes the space in the Seniors’ Activity Centre and the pickleball players have joined forces with the Harmony Seniors’ Club, many of the issues that Mr. Fawcett raised are operational in nature and come down to ensuring that there is adequate space for storage (much of the identified issues around safety relate to this, and the club’s utilization of existing storage),” Clark said.

Bud Fawcett is the president of the seniors’ club who raised concerns with parking, space, and safety issues at that council meeting.

Clark said that council approved a memorandum of understanding between the Harmony Seniors’ Club and the town just last year that outlined a mechanism for communication between the town and the club.

“Many of the items that Mr. Fawcett brought forth have recently been identified via this communication plan and are either projects that are underway this year, or have been added to the capital project ‘wish list’ for the coming year so that we may address these concerns,” Clark said. “Unfortunately, our department was not advised of any major capital issues in a manner that would have allowed us to incorporate these into the 2024 capital budget.”

Clark said the phenomenal growth of the Harmony Seniors’ Club is a testament to the work that people like Bud Fawcett and Ron Hughes have undertaken for years in that space.

“However, at this time there is no immediate plan to expand the town’s facility that they utilize,” Clark said. “While we are not against looking into this in the future, as with an indoor sport court facility, this would need to be accompanied by a strong business case. Our current focus is on ensuring that the infrastructure that is existing is adequately taken care of and used. I am however open to examining this in the future.”

Clark did note that the lawn bowling facility is being examined for alternative use at this time, but no decisions have been made.   

As for using the Youth Arena for pickleball, Clark said that is an option. 

“We would be open to installing temporary lines with an approved substance,” Clark noted. “However as this is a multi-use facility, we would not entertain something more permanent (e.g., paint) at this time on the dry floor.” 

Patricia Lynch is a member of the pickleball league in Smiths Falls. 

“We are excited by the prospect of using the Youth Arena infrastructure, and we have many ideas for its use by our pickleball club members, as well as the non-members of the community and the surrounding areas,” she said, as they’re going to launch an online survey around the use of this facility from its members.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News

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