The Benton Parks and Recreation Department is in early talks to bring the popular sport of pickleball to the city of Benton.
During Tuesday night’s meeting of the Benton City Council's Parks Committee, Parks Director Stephanie Jones shared that the department is looking into providing permanent space for the sport to be played.
“It would be a good thing to probably implement at Tyndall Park,” Jones said.
With improvements already being made to the park, Jones said that area would be ideal for adding pickleball facilities.
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. It can be played both indoors or outdoors. The sport is played with a paddle and plastic ball similar to a Wiffle Ball on a badminton sized court with a modified tennis net. The game can be played as singles or doubles.
The Parks Department does occasionally provide space for residents to play the sport, but there are currently no dedicated areas.
Benton Mayor Tom Farmer has been in talks with officials in Hot Springs Village on the success the city experienced in hosting pickleball tournaments.
“In Hot Springs Village, they have 13 pickleball courts,” Farmer said. “It’s the fastest-growing racket sport there is right now. They had 500 people enter this tournament that lasted over a week and they can’t wait for the next tournament.”
Farmer added that most residents have to go to Bryant to play because there are no permanent courts in the city.
“It would just be good for the community,” Farmer said.
Alderman Judd Hart said that the Parks Department has been contacted be interested parties asking for places to play locally.
“We do actually rent courts where they place lines on the basketball court,” Hart said. “We do have opportunities. We do actually rent court space for pickleball at designated times.”
Jones added that there is potential grant money available to help cover the cost of adding permanent pickleball courts through the Arkansas Health Department and that Farmer has also reached out for information on how to get additional funding.
“There’s a few things that we can look into,” Jones said. “We will bring it back when we have costs and a layout of what that will look like in the future.”
While no official timetable for bringing pickleball to the city has been established, Jones said that they will be bringing more information to the committee and Benton City Council as it is gathered.
The department is also making progress on installing fencing at the sand volleyball courts at Sunset Lake.
Jones said having the fencing in place is important due to the courts proximity to the road and the presence of local wildlife such as geese around the lake.
Because the project will be less than $20,000, the department is not required to put the project out for bids.
“We will get three quotes and take the lowest quote,” Jones said. “It’s about $15,000 to $17,000 for the project.”
Other items approved on the agenda included:
•A one-year concessionaire contract extension.
•Rental prices for 2020.
•Sidewalk additions for Bernard Holland Park.
Items voted on by the committee will be forwarded on to the council for approval.
All meetings are open to the public and attendance is encouraged.