Washington to bid out pickleball court project

Katie Anderson

Washington council members approved last week to advertise for bids on the pickleball court project at Washington Park.

The pickleball courts, which sit next to the tennis courts and behind the sports complex, have seen a lot of action over the last month, as stay-at-home orders were lifted and people were able to get outside and enjoy nice weather.

“Most of us are still playing, and we’re wiping down paddles and things,” said Tom Hincy, of South Strabane.

Hincy is a pickleball player who organizes games throughout the week at the park. Two years ago, he approached council, asking for space in the park for pickleball. He had lines painted in the court space, but players have to bring their own portable nets and set them up every time they want to play.

In the last two years, Hincy has been working with Lynn Galluze, the city’s computer systems coordinator, on securing funding to construct new courts. They have $50,500 dedicated to the project, and hope to award contracts by the end of the month, Galluze said.

The city earmarked $20,000 from its park fund for the project, which also secured a $20,000 tourism grant, Galluze said. The other $10,500 came from two private donations, she said.

The project will include a new tennis court-type surface, fencing around each of the new four courts, benches and possibly lighting.

“There’s such a huge response for people wanting this, and not just in Washington,” Galluze said. “People are driving from all over.”

Hincy said one of the groups that uses the courts now is “a little more advanced,” with folks traveling from Waynesburg, Wheeling and the South Hills. The first day Hincy’s group started playing again, after social distancing for months, he said 19 people showed up.

“The socializing is the fun part and being able to get together,” he said. “Half the time I don’t even know if I won or lost the game, but I enjoyed it.”

Hincy said he’s hoping to be able to play on the new courts by mid-August, but that will depend on the bids. He had hoped to have a tournament on the new courts in August, but now, he’s doubtful that will happen.

“Next year we’ll definitely be putting some tournaments on,” he said. “I would think if we could do a little bit of advertising, we could probably get in 100 to 125 people at different levels to play.”

Also, Hincy may have beginner level training for folks who are new to the game and want to learn.

“A lot of people want to play, but they just don’t know the game,” he said.

In other park-related action, council voted Thursday to spend $16,280 from the park development fund to replace the roof on the Stone Pavilion. Council hired the local Nicolella Roofing Co. to complete the project.