Pickleball devotees chime in on plans to upgrade Fremont Park


Eric Block plays pickelball at the Glendale YMCA on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Pickleball enthusiasts crowded a room at the Pacific Community Center Wednesday night, unified in their request for room to play the paddle game at Fremont Park.

More than two dozen local fans of the game — which blends Ping Pong, tennis and a Wiffle ball — made up a majority of those in attendance during a meeting to discuss a series of proposed amenities and renovations for Glendale’s oldest park.

The latest gathering on the overhaul project narrowed public support down to one of three plans: a design that adds a new community building for private events and more than 40 additional parking spaces. It will also move the children’s playground toward the center of the park, away from the street.

There are already eight tennis courts that could be rearranged and a field toward the southeast portion of the park used for soccer that could be made into a dedicated soccer field with artificial turf, said David Volz, a landscape architect hired by the city to design the renovations.

The schematic also laid out the new location of an existing basketball half court, which would be joined by another one right next to it.

The basketball court was designed with the intent of doubling as a pickleball court. However, devotees of the sport, which is popular with seniors due to its low-impact nature, said they wanted their own dedicated courts because there aren’t many of them around.

“It’s a big hit for baby boomers and seniors and the youth. It’s a great stepping stone to tennis,” said Marshall Pura, an ambassador for the USA Pickleball Assn.

If there won’t be an individual pickleball court, Pura said a single tennis court would be enough to get some games going.

“One tennis court will give you four pickleball games,” he said.

Others added they want outdoor lighting for the pickleball courts, so they would be able to play in the evening after they get off work.

The city’s Community Services and Parks Department will put together a final design proposal to go before the Parks Commission and eventually the City Council.

Jess Duran, the department’s director, said there are multiple options when it comes to pickleball.

However, there are no lights on the basketball court, and no plans to install lighting in the near future.

It would be a different story if the pickleball courts were to be shared with one of the tennis courts, which already have outdoor lighting, he said.

And it’s possible, Duran said, that a finalized design could have a dedicated pickleball court.

“I could be convinced that it wouldn’t be much more of an expense or effort if we did an individual pickleball court,” he said.

Some residents living across the street from Fremont Park along Kenilworth Avenue said they would appreciate it if some of the tennis courts and the soccer field were moved more inward toward the park’s center so the noise from them won’t disturb the neighbors.

The park could come with a price tag as high as $6 million, and $2 million has already been set aside in the 2015-16 budget, which still has to be adopted by the City Council.

Duran said the earliest the park renovations would get underway is in about a year and a half.