Pelham celebrates new pickleball courts with ribbon cutting

Published 4:16 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

PELHAM – Residents and city officials gathered at the Pelham Senior Center on Friday, Sept. 29 across from Pelham Racquet Club to celebrate the grand opening of one of Pelham’s newest recreational opportunities.

As pickleball has taken the country by storm, the city and the parks and recreation department were able to approve a standalone facility next to the senior center that has quickly gained popularity, and on Sept. 29, a special ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the two fenced-in courts.

“Generally, development is driven by what the citizens want and that’s what made this a reality,” Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said. “In recent years, pickleball has become a phenomenon and we couldn’t meet that mission, so we found a place to give the people what they want. I think it’s going to continue to grow.”

Waters said it is another amenity in the city that will give residents the opportunity to get outside and enjoy recreation no matter the age.

“We’re all connected via technology, but this kind of connection is fading away,” he said. “Any opportunity we have to get together face to face and be a community together, it’s a good thing. I truly believe that a city is judged by how they treat their young and their old and this offers an activity for both.”

The new courts have a fence surrounding them to help keep the ball close by, while the two state-of-the-art courts are also separated by a small fence to keep the action from drifting into the other court.

Parks and Recreation Director Brian Cooper said the facility is much needed due to how quickly the sport has grown in popularity.

“So far, our folks who play at the rec center have it Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and Tuesday night, and they’re filling up six courts,” he said. “We also have two outside courts over there that people play on that are on the basketball court, but these two courts are the first two standalone courts in Pelham. We think, being by the racquet club, it will draw their attention.”

Cooper said it adds to the plethora of recreational opportunities in the city, mentioning the Pelham Civic Complex’s two ice rinks, the racquet club, Ballantrae Golf Club, Oak Mountain State Park, the city park, the rec center, the splash pad and the dog park.

He added that it helps improve the quality of living in the city, while also sharing that the $1 million playground coming to Pelham City Park next to the splash pad next spring will also add to that.

“We’re here to provide facilities, programs to get people outside and get them moving,” he said. “This was needed and we could add more in the future if the demand dictates it.”

City Councilman Chad Leverett was also in attendance at the ribbon cutting and enjoyed seeing the residents on the court, even being tempted to play himself.

“I think, to have recreation for all ages, is very important,” Leverett said. “My son, who is 9 years old, has been out here and you have all the way up to the seniors. Just watching it, it’s really exciting. I haven’t picked up a paddle before, but it’s kind of making me want to get out there if I didn’t have slacks on.

He also echoed the sentiments of Waters and Cooper, saying the city’s residents put recreation as a high priority and it is great that they could add another amenity to a long list.