FOLEY – The Club Administrator of the Coastal Alabama Pickleball Club, Bob Webb, attended the Monday, Dec. 19 Foley council along with fellow representatives, proposing the possible addition of a …
FOLEY – The Club Administrator of the Coastal Alabama Pickleball Club, Bob Webb, attended the Monday, Dec. 19 Foley council along with fellow representatives, proposing the possible addition of a pickleball park in the area.
While the council approves of the idea in general, the desired location the club has set their sights on has caused concern through the members. Webb requested use of 6.6 acres at the Coastal Alabama Farmers and Fishermen’s Market, beginning at the retention pond and moving west.
“We’re looking for a long-term lease, and trying to do something that makes sense to everybody,” Webb said. “I think it would be a good partner with the hotel that is in discussion to go there, because when people come to town to play, it’ll be their first choice to walk across the street, to play and eat.”
While he states the club wants to keep the land as a park and not commercialize it, the proposed game park falls right in an area that would be difficult to negotiate.
The location belongs to both the Coastal Alabama Farmers and Fishermen’s Market and the co-operative, and while the council states that the land owners normally don’t have an issue with anything that will improve the location, it can still take a long time to get approval when going through multiple boards. More so, the council has already designated the location as greenspace, which causes them more concern over if they wish to change it or leave it as is.
“I like your proposal, but that particular location concerns me,” said councilman Charlie Ebert III. “I think it’s important that we preserve a lot of that area in the greenspace that we designated it as. Before we proceed, I think we need to be extremely careful, because we don’t know how things are going to build out around the Farmers Market.”
Webb likes the location’s proximity to the Foley Sports Tourism complex and both developed and planned hotels in the area. Still, the council feels that considering alternative locations may be the best option.
“Honestly I love that location, it’s very good because of the symmetry that you’d have with the rest of the sports going on there,” said City Administrator Mike Thompson. “Plus it’s right there where you’d have people coming to play pickleball, and they could eat and shop in Foley … In terms of complexity, the fact that this property is partially in the CAFFM and the other part is partially in the co-operative, it’s a complex arrangement with multiple boards.”
Webb stated with the current rise in pickleball demand, the area would benefit from the inclusion of such a park.
“What we’re attempting to do is leverage the size of our local pickleball club,” Webb stated, “which is 750 members and it’s growing by the day, into a game park that includes pickleball, bocce, cornhole, and washers, so there’s something to do, keeping people active.”
The club’s plans include a five-phase project. Phase one would see eight pickleball courts, a 60x40 kitchen, an 80x40 covered patio where visitors could enjoy meals or get out of the sun, restrooms on location, and a pro shop, offices, and storage. Kids would also be able to enjoy a playground, a kids’ game lawn, a cornhole lawn, a washer lawn, and one acre of parking. Phase two would include four bocce courts, eight lighted pickleball courts, and using the bocce courts as a foundation to drop rental bleachers during tournaments. Phase three would see eight additional courts, a second cornhole lawn and washer lawn, and another one acre of parking. Phase four would bring 12 more pickleball courts, and the final phase, which would call for additional land, would be for the Foley Pickleball State University.
“All this is being done through private investment dollars, and the bill for all five phases will be about 3.5 million dollars,” said Webb. “But we will do it in phases … We’re trying to mitigate risk by doing this slowly, gently, and carefully, paying attention to what our customers want.”
The club hopes to use the money brought in by paddle rentals and the kitchen to help fund the park and help it expand, while also keeping prices low and affordable to everyone.
The council decided to discuss the matter further to determine if a second location for the proposed game park would be ideal, or if there would be a future for the park in the chosen location near the Farmers Market. The council hopes to bring the item back during the second Jan. council.