Portsmouth seeks grant for new pickleball courts at Elmhurst

Matching grant could also fund new pavilion at Glen Park

By Jim McGaw
Posted 11/29/21

PORTSMOUTH — One of the fastest-growing sports around may be coming to Elmhurst Park in the near future.

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Portsmouth seeks grant for new pickleball courts at Elmhurst

Matching grant could also fund new pavilion at Glen Park

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — One of the fastest-growing sports around may be coming to Elmhurst Park in the near future.

The Town Council has approved Town Planner Gary Crosby’s request to apply for a 2022 R.I. Department of Enviornmental Management (RIDEM) Recreation Development Grant to transform the abandoned basketball courts at Elmhurst into a four-court pickleball facility.

The cost of the project is $265,700, and the grant amount would be $212,560. It’s a matching grant, so the town would have to put up $53,140 (20 percent of the total cost) if the grant is approved. 

According to Crosby, the 102x112-foot basketball court, which was located behind the former Elmhurst School, is underutilized. The four new pickleball courts would include new eight-foot black vinyl fencing with a pedestrian gate and equipment gate.

The project would include a new asphalt surface with seal coating, striping and netting and access paths from both the parking lot funded by a previous RIDEM recreation development grant and from the nearby Glen Manor House. Four standard light poles to complete the parking lot nearby would also be included in the project.

The pickleball facility was one of two projects Crosby brought to the council on Nov. 21 for RIDEM grant approval. The other application is for the design, engineering and installation of a new 24x24-foot pavilion on a concrete pad to be built adjacent to the exiting pavilion at Glen Park.

The project cost is $97,450. The grant would be for $77,960, with the town contributing $19,490.

The project includes all electrical and painting work as well as the installation of a new 10x10-foot storage shed to accompany the pavilion.

The council voted 4-1 to allow Crosby to approve the grant applications and committing $72,630 total town funds, and give the pickleball courts first priority.

Town Administrator Richard Rainer Jr. said the grant awards should be announced before the budget is adopted next spring. If RIDEM doesn’t award anything to the town, then the matching funds will not be spent, he said. 

Council member Daniela Abbott cast the only dissenting vote, saying she’d rather wait until the town’s longterm parks and recreation master plan is finished, which she called “the critical piece that we’re missing.” (See related story at left.)

“We shouldn’t be prioritizing on a whim,” Abbott said, adding she’d like the town to give more attention to establishing a community center.

Rainer said her concerns are on point. Unfortunately, the grant application must be submitted by December and the master plan will not be ready until next March, he said.

In addition, the town’s recreation program is growing by leaps and bounds and demand for summer camp is exceeding expectations.

“Every summer we struggle with, where we are going to put these kids?” Rainer said.

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