A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

At LBCC, tennis goes and pickleball comes in

Written May 18th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

One of two remaining tennis courts at LBCC on Saturday. The courts will be replaced with courts for pickleball.

At Linn-Benton Community College, they haven’t played tennis for years. And now they plan to replace their courts with a pickleball venue that the Albany Parks and Recreation Department will build.

Parks Director Ed Hodney explains the deal in a memo that goes to the city council on Monday. The city will build the pickleball courts to replace the LB tennis courts at an estimated cost of $300,000. The college will pay to maintain the courts, which will be available for college and city programs, for “free play” by the public, and for tournaments organized by the Albany Pickleball Club.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. It’s played with paddles and a plastic ball on a court about half the size of a tennis court. Albany has pickleball courts at Eleanor Hackleman Park.

According to Hodney’s memo, a new city pickleball complex has been planned for a while. Two locations were considered: LBCC and Timber Linn Park. Reece & Associates of Albany designed the courts, compared the two sites and concluded that building the courts at the college would be far less expensive and take less time than at the park. Part of the reason is that the college already has plenty of parking and none will have to be added.

Once the council gives its OK and the city and college sign an intergovernmental agreement, construction is expected to start in the fall of 2019.

The city parks and recreation fund has allocated $150,000 toward the project in the current budget year and another $150,000 in the next budget. Readers may wonder how the parks department can afford to spend that much money on pickleball when it faces cutbacks in its already meager maintenance program.  The pickleball money is from systems development charges or SDCs, which are collected on new construction and must be spent only on capital projects related to growth.

The condition of the LBCC tennis court says that for years there has been zero interest in the sport at the college. On the original four courts, the nets are gone from two. Only one of the four still has a complete net, and weeds sprout from cracks in the surface all over the courts. Pickleballers must hope that weed control and other maintenance will pick up when the new courts are built. (hh)

Postscript: The council voted 5-0 on May 20 to authorize the pickleball project at LBCC. Specifically, the vote was to authorize the city manager to sign a memorandum of undertanding with the college.

A line of weeds between two of the former tennis courts where the nets have been removed.



7 responses to “At LBCC, tennis goes and pickleball comes in”

  1. Bill says:

    Very happy to see 300k put to good use. I’ve always found pickleball an excellent choice and infinitely preferable to basic services such as the ones our city needs to curtail in light of the current budget shortfalls. It makes perfect sense that monies collected as systems development charges should (of course) only be used in such a myopic way.

  2. John Marble says:

    Imagine my horror at being confronted with the supposed word “Pickleballer”. Alas, Mr. Google confirms that is in somewhat common use around America. Of course, much of popular culture does not thrive in my little universe.

  3. Delfina says:

    How nice for the community. I have not played pickleball but I hear it is something that seniors can play. I just wonder when Albany will create something in No. Albany for the citizens to enjoy? All the recreational venues seem to be in the city.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    Why is it that our City Moms and Pops don’t bat an eye at holding funds in SDCs, large sums dedicated to useless Pickleball Courts buried somewhere on the LBCC campus where no one will see or use them, yet if those same Moms and Pops will pick up the hammer and tongs if a church wants to provide a porta-pottie for homeless folks.

    It’s easy to see where Albany’s priorities lay – on the abandoned courts of middle America. And of course, the laws preventing SDC cash from helping those who need it the most are held the most sacrosanct fundsnof all. What God-fearing community would not provide pickleball courts in order to feed and house the less fortunate?

    • Bryan says:

      Maybe you should move to Cuba or Russia?
      Good to hear they’re adding more courts, they’re needed for sure and will be heavily used.

    • Ken Walter says:

      In the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again”.

  5. NancyM. says:

    Support J.Jacobson’s reply. Couln’t have said it better.Didn’t realize there
    were so many aged, out of shape citizens who couldn’t lift a tennis racket
    let alone play tennis with it. Will the same thing eventually happen to
    golf courses?


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