Orem opens new Pickleball courts at Sharon park 05

BYU student Zach Colemere returns the ball as he plays a pickleball doubles match Saturday, May 26, 2018, at Sharon Park's pickleball courts in Orem. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

When the Sharon Park neighbors first heard the idea of having pickleball courts in their park, it didn’t sit well with them. After four months, however, they are now all for it.

According to Steven Downs, Orem city spokesman, there is good reason, as a variety of crimes have gone down substantially since the new courts have opened.

Calls for service at Sharon Park and the surrounding homes are down significantly. The six courts are located at the very west end of the park between 500 and 600 North, just west of 400 East.

According to police, drug calls are down 40 percent, fireworks complaints 50 percent, juvenile problems 60 percent, public peace 60 percent, suspicious activities 20 percent, and theft is down 57 percent. The percentages compared June and July numbers from 2017 to June and July numbers this year.

“Activating parks is a known deterrent for crime, Downs said in email. “Our hope is to continue investing in our recreational facilities by constructing amenities that bring friends and families together. We have identified numerous parks/facilities that we want to reinvest in.”

The cost of the pickleball courts project was $600,000. Community Development Block Grants paid $300,000 of it. The other $300,000 was paid out of the city’s general fund.

“The purpose of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding is not only to benefit area low- and moderate-income persons but to help better cities and communities through neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improved facilities and services, said Kena Jo Mathews, Community Services Manager for Orem. “The Sharon Park project is one of many impactful projects that the City of Orem and its partner agencies have been able to accomplish because of this ongoing, beneficial funding.”

In addition to the courts, the city has added additional lighting, improved the walking track, added additional benches and refreshed the restroom facilities.

“These pickleball courts have not only been a physical benefit to our citizens, it has also been a social benefit,” Downs said. “Every day you can see families, friends, neighbors, and others interacting together. We are ecstatic that these courts have been received so well. We plan to do more in the future.”

For those not familiar with pickleball, the sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong. It can be played indoors or out on a badminton-sized court with a lightly modified tennis net. It is played with a wood paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Participants can play either singles or doubles.

The park was selected, according to a city press release, because of its available open space and centralized location.

The courts open at 7 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. There are six courts with lights, allowing play well into the evening. The lights are energy-efficient LED fixtures that are programmed to turn off at 10 p.m.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!