There is not a feasible location within the City of Lewes to build a pickleball facility, members of a subcommittee found.
“It was disappointing we weren’t able to find any city land or event state or other lands,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rodney Robinson, who served on the subcommittee.
Robinson, a landscape architect, determined the city would need 1.5 to 2 acres of land to accommodate courts and necessary parking for 35 to 40 vehicles. If the facility was near existing parking, he said, the site could be a little smaller.
Commissioner Barry Dunkin also served on the subcommittee. He said members assessed the local needs and projected growth. They also reviewed a pickleball feasibility study undertaken by First State Pickleball Club in cooperation with Sen. Ernie Lopez’s office in early 2020.
“We looked at sites at the University of Delaware, at Cape Henlopen State Park, at school facilities, and we did not come up with any viable place to build these courts,” Dunkin said.
Robinson suggested the only city-owned land that would be able to accommodate the needs of a pickleball facility would be Great Marsh Park off New Road. However, he said, a recent survey of residents found a majority do not want active recreation in the park.
Janet Reeves, the city’s parks and marina administrator, said residents value open space.
“The pickleball community is interested in having something within the municipal limits, but we just don’t have that space,” she said. “We need to maintain open space.”
She said there is a large pickleball facility at Sandhill Fields east of Georgetown. There have also been discussions with a local gym about building a pickleball facility near Midway, she said.
“I think there are other opportunities for First State Pickleball Club and City of Lewes residents to have additional courts available to them,” Reeves said. “I just think it’s their desire to have them in the city limits, but we just don’t have that space.”
The city’s only pickleball courts are at Canalfront Park, where the space is shared with tennis courts. Those courts along with the adjacent basketball court are set to be resurfaced later this year. When complete, the surface will be striped with two tennis courts and four pickleball courts, and basketball will continue to be separate.