CEDAR FALLS — Pickleball courts are now open at Orchard Hill Park.
“The courts here have been in the making for about two years,” said Mark Ripplinger Cedar Falls director of municipal operations programs. “Individuals on the advisory committee approached the city trying to move it up in the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) process, and they were able to do that because they volunteered to go out and raised quite a bit of money.”
More than 130 donors contributed to the project. Members of the Cedar Falls Pickleball Club and pickleball enthusiasts ended up raising about $35,000. The club was established in 2017 with more than 100 members.
“They raised all the money they needed over the course of about eight or 10 months,” Ripplinger said. “Once the money was raised, staff went ahead and started getting quotes for the rock work, the asphalt, fencing and the surfacing.”
The process of building the courts began in the spring. Despite a rainy day Tuesday, the courts opened. About 70 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“They are continuing to raise money for amenities,” Ripplinger said. “The city of Cedar Falls contributed $50,000 and also our staff assisted in some of the grade work, the seeding, sidewalk installations, (and) we’ll be putting in benches, those sorts of things.”
The Black Hawk Gaming Association also contributed $50,000 toward the project.
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“If you include all the staff time the city has put into it, and everyone’s efforts, I’d say it’s about a $200,000 project,” Ripplinger said. “The community really came together because I think there’s an interest in this sport.”
Pickleball has become a popular sport in the eastern and southern United States, Ripplinger said.
“It just took a little while to come to the Midwest,” he said.
After some research, Ripplinger found out some communities striped their tennis courts to be used as pickleball courts.
“Not a lot of communities were actually dedicating or building courts specifically for pickleball,” Ripplinger said. “Cedar Falls is one of the first I’d say five or six in the state that has dedicated courts just for pickleball.”
There are eight pickleball courts. Scheduling may be used in the future, but for now the courts are open first-come, first-served.