During a special meeting Oct. 25 at Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms, Farms officials including City Manager Shane Reeside, pictured, share possible plans for pickleball courts at the park.

During a special meeting Oct. 25 at Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms, Farms officials including City Manager Shane Reeside, pictured, share possible plans for pickleball courts at the park.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Grosse Pointe Farms City Council to vote on pickleball court proposal

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 6, 2023

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — In response to interest from a number of residents, Grosse Pointe Farms officials plan to create permanent pickleball courts at Pier Park.

At press time, the Farms City Council was slated to approve a plan during its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at City Hall.

The city held an informational meeting to get feedback from residents Oct. 25 at Pier Park, during which officials outlined several possible options for the courts.

Parks and Recreation Director Chris Galatis said the city has had two temporary pickleball courts on one of the three tennis courts at Pier Park since June 2022.

“For the most part, we’ve been able to meet the need for tennis” with just two courts, City Manager Shane Reeside said.

Former mayor Jim Farquhar, who has served on the Parks and Harbor Committee since 1984 and now works part time at Pier Park, concurred, saying “very rarely were both (tennis) courts being used” at the same time.

Data from the park showed that reservations for the pickleball courts were about double that for tennis courts this past summer.

“Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America for the last three years,” Galatis said.

While pickleball is generally associated with older adults, players ages 6 to 34 account for about 50% of those who partake in the sport. The sport is expected to grow by about 7.7% annually through 2028, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

Reeside said officials looked at city-owned property at Mack Avenue and Moross Road — home to adjacent Kerby Field — as well as Pier Park when considering possible pickleball court locations. He said they ultimately decided against Mack-Moross for a number of reasons, including that the fields there are already frequently used for soccer and Little League; it would be difficult to regulate court usage; and there’s a shortage of restrooms and shelter for athletes.

“It is heavily used and the parking there is limited,” Reeside said of Mack-Moross.

In addition, Reeside said the city is banking land at this prominent corner for possible future needs.

Besides adding dedicated pickleball courts at Pier Park, this project would include resurfacing and repainting the tennis courts and installing new tennis court nets.

Three of the options would involve adding pickleball courts to an area adjacent to the existing tennis courts, which would result in a varying amount of lost green space and trees, based on court configuration. One of these options would permanently remove tennis court 3 and convert it for just pickleball, while the other two options would create two new permanent pickleball courts and maintain a court that could still be used for tennis or could be used for two pickleball courts.

The loss of some green space was a concern for some residents.

“That is the only place in the park where you can have a picnic on the water,” resident Ric Schmidt said. “To me, that’s one of the most special spots in the park.”

Eliminating a walkway between the courts — a suggestion that came up at the meeting — would be a way to reduce the loss of green space.

The plans that seemed most likely to get approval — those involving adding pickleball to the tennis court area — were in the $250,000 to $350,000 price range. Two options — which would build the pickleball courts west of the Orten platform tennis courts — would extend out into the existing parking lot, which would make the Pier Park itself larger, but Reeside said it would also “more than double” the cost. Besides resulting in the loss of 18 to 22 parking spaces, water, electrical and gas lines would need to be moved, which Reeside said is one of the major reasons for the sharp cost increase. These options would also result in the elimination of the park’s rain garden.

The project is expected to receive some funding from the nonprofit Grosse Pointe Farms Foundation, but, as City Councilwoman Beth Konrad Wilberding noted, the rest of the tab is coming from “city taxpayer dollars.”

Farquhar, a lifelong Farms resident, said he’s seen the park change tremendously over the years — something he feels is necessary as the city responds to the changing desires of the public.

“We’ve got to keep moving forward to attract new people to our city,” Farquhar said.

Reeside said if the council approves a proposal by the end of the year, administrators could go out to bid to construct the courts in spring 2024.

At press time, the agenda for the Dec. 11 council meeting wasn’t completed yet. For an agenda or more information about the meeting, visit the city’s website at grossepoin tefarms.org.