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Renewed pushback against possible West Seattle pickleball courts

Washington’s state sport is causing some controversy at Seattle’s Lincoln Park.  Seattle Parks and Recreation plans to convert already existing, dilapidated tennis courts into six new pickleball courts.

A Change.org petition shows how many people are against the idea, with signatures getting close to the 3,700 mark Friday evening.  The people behind the petition say the noise from the courts will make life impossible for the surrounding wildlife.  They also said Seattle Parks and Rec used a technicality to push the rushed project through.

“This is not anti-pickleball,” said Sandy Shettler, a conservation committee member with Birds Connect Seattle.  

Shettler added, “But to place that in a nature preserve just doesn’t make sense because one or the other is not going to work out and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the nature.”

It’s nature versus pickleball at Lincoln Park’s old tennis courts.   On Friday, over 200 more people joined Nature’s Corner and added their names to the petition against the tennis court to pickleball conversion.

“The parks department hasn’t given the community time to weigh in and they haven’t done any environmental impact analysis for this project,” said Shettler.

Seattle Parks and Recreation said the environmental assessment isn’t necessary, explaining in a statement in part:

This is an existing court, and the work is categorically exempt from SEPA requirements as maintenance of an existing facility.  A landscape architect has been assigned to the development of Lincoln Park tennis courts, and they have reviewed the site and will be using best management practices to implement courts here.

“The sign that is posted on their ‘tennis’ court is simply Lincoln Park environmental materials storage wood chips, bark, compost, soil, they also stored machines too,” said activist Lance Nelson. 

Lance has occupied the courts all week during work hours, capturing footage of a deer on those same courts on Wednesday.

Seattle Parks and Rec. also said in that statement they acknowledged they are not having a public comment on the court conversion:

We are committed to communicating our plans for pickleball courts in Lincoln Park frequently. While there are no opportunities for public engagement, we can answer any questions you have and share any concerns you may have with Parks and Recreation leadership.  In addition, we’ll install a project sign near the site to share project and contact information.

“If they get to the end of the environmental impact statement and decide this is still the right place for the pickleball court we are going to have to abide by that,” said Sandy.

Seattle Parks is also evaluating if lights can be installed at the Lincoln Park courts.  The project is expected to wrap up this fall. 

There is a gathering on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the north parking lot to show how many people are against the project.

Full Parks and Rec Statement:

As you are aware, we selected Lincoln Park as an alternative to the dual striping at Solstice Park after we heard from both tennis and pickleball players that separate courts were preferred, and we found an opportunity to make that happen.

Through work with a consultant and community engagement, Lincoln Park was considered as a potential location for dedicated courts in SPR’s 2020-2021 Outdoor Pickleball Plan.  At that time, it was not included as one of the top candidates due to size, lack of funding and its current use as a grounds crew storage facility. However, since then, SPR received a grant enabling us to build these courts for community use and to relocate the maintenance storage site away from the Lincoln courts.

The pickleball courts will be developed on an existing concrete court that once served a tennis court within Lincoln Park. The court will consist of an asphalt overlay, and SPR may add a top coating down the line should funding allow. Additionally, we are evaluating if lighting is feasible or appropriate for this site.

Additionally, we plan to move quickly to develop these courts, with the goal of the courts be open for play in late fall 2023.

This is an existing court, and the work is categorically exempt from SEPA requirements as maintenance of an existing facility.  A landscape architect has been assigned to the development Lincoln Park tennis courts, and they have reviewed the site and will be using best management practices to implement courts here.

We plan to offset bringing another active use to Lincoln Park by relocating the SPR grounds storage facility to the crew headquarter location. This will remove trucks, along with their emissions and traffic, driving in and out of this actively used part of Lincoln Park.

We are committed to communicating our plans for pickleball courts in Lincoln Park frequently. While there are no opportunities for public engagement, we can answer any questions you have and share any concerns you may have with Parks and Recreation leadership.  In addition, we’ll install a project sign near the site to share project and contact information.