By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
New outdoor pickleball courts at Mt. Pleasant Middle School are more reality than dream at this point.
The project is almost 50 percent funded through private pledges, members from the pickleball committee announced during a Healthy Henry County Communities meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
?Hopefully people will be playing on it this time next year,? committee member Freddy Prellwitz said.
The cost for six courts and fencing at Mt. Pleasant Middle School is estimated at $100,000. The committee has received $47,000 in pledges and will be requesting a $15,000 contribution from the Mt. Pleasant Community School District, which they feel positively about.
Additionally, grant season is upon the committee and they expect to be awarded at least $35,000 in grant money.
Most of the private pledges the pickleball committee has received have been in the $500 range, proving residents? desire for a pickleball court close to home, Prellwitz said. A few businesses have donated $5,000 to get one of the six courts named after them and the committee received one donation of $10,000.
All donations for the pickleball courts will be written to the MPCSD Foundation. Donations will be tax deductible when collected. The school district has agreed to own and maintain the courts.
The pickleball committee members first approached HHCC in February, hoping to receive help from the organization to apply for the Wellmark Grant, a match grant of up to $100,000. While the HHCC board at the time voted to not move forward with applying for the grant on behalf of the pickleball committee due to time restraints, HHCC continue to support the committee?s efforts.
During Tuesday?s meeting, HHCC Director Kelly Carr received approval from the HHCC board to write a letter of support for the committee on behalf of HHCC to help with future grant applications.
?The more people we can get to partner in this project with us enhances our chances of getting grants,? committee member John Roederer said.
The pickleball committee?s biggest selling point has been the multigenerational involvement in the game since it was introduced to Mt. Pleasant. The three indoor courts at The REC Center are often filled with players ranging from middle schoolers to people in their 70s.
The REC Center courts are only available 16 hours a week to pickleball players during normal business hours, however, limiting the number of pickleball fans who are actually able to play.
The pickleball committee estimates that they will break ground on the courts during the late spring of 2019 and hope to have them completed by late summer 2019 in time for the 2019-2020 school year.
?There?s a lot of people who see this as very worthwhile,? Prellwitz said. ?It?s a sport you can (play with) two artificial knees and a bad hip. Just about anybody can play the game.?