League of California Cities

City of Solvang serves up first community pickleball courts using innovative funding strategies, scoring a big win with residents

After receiving numerous requests from the community for pickleball courts, the city of Solvang developed a creative approach to make the project a reality. A highly collaborative process, the new courts are the result of in-kind support from residents, funding from both the city and community, and the dedicated efforts of city staff.

“We heard the community ask for pickleball courts, which seemed challenging from a cost perspective, but staff stepped up,” said City Manager Xenia Bradford. “Public Works staff have done a tremendous job taking the time from their workday to make this happen for the community.”Pickleball-3-(1).jpg

City staff completed the project design and performed many construction tasks in-house, such as building the retaining wall, to bring the project’s cost down. Construction on the courts at the Hans Christian Andersen Park started last fall and opened for use at the beginning of May.

Many residents who enjoy the sport, which combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, are proud that Solvang is home to the first pickleball courts in the Santa Ynez Valley.

"I've heard extremely positive feedback about the new pickleball courts,” said Solvang resident David Gay. “The city and the community really stepped up in funding this project, and it is paying off big time. The courts will be great for our community, as they help to promote physical and mental health and encourage safe social interaction."

In addition to staff support, the city diverted $20,000 in funding from other purposes to the project. They also asked the community to raise $10,000; residents have donated $8,780 since fundraising began in November 2020. Sagebrush Painting owner Rick Bernhardt also provided in-kind donations of time and resources to seal the control joints in the concrete and paint the courts. The city is also applying for grant funding through Proposition 68 that would enable them to add decomposed granite, landscaping, and permanent fencing next year.

“With community support and staff dedication, we were able to reduce the cash out-of-pocket impact and deliver this project,” said Wastewater Plant Supervisor Nathan Giacinto.

Senior Recreation Coordinator Jenny McClurg added “It is very rewarding to bring these courts to Solvang. It helps when you have a community behind you and staff willing to jump in and go above and beyond.”

The city is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 27 at 5:30 p.m. as an official celebration.

This story was featured in the Cal Cities Advocate Newsletter on May 19, 2021.
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