SIOUX CITY -- Three of Riverside Park's tennis courts will be converted into eight pickleball courts and the two remaining tennis courts will be refurbished.
The Sioux City Council committed $120,000 to the project during its capital improvement program, or CIP, budget wrap up session Wednesday.
Pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States with more than 3 million players. Although participation in the sport has grown tremendously in Sioux City over the past five years, local pickleball enthusiasts lack a dedicated outdoor facility to play on.
"It is a great quality of life amenity for all ages, although the majority of the players are 55 plus. This project provides a unique opportunity for that age group," said resident Carolyn Ellwanger. "For a relatively small investment, the city can take a small piece of Riverside Park that has gone into disrepair, improve the infrastructure and make it an attraction that will provide a place for hundreds of adults to play in a dedicated area."
Nineteen other Iowa cities and towns have invested in the sport, according to Ellwanger. She said the conversion of the Riverside Park tennis courts will allow pickleball leagues to form and clinics and multi-state tournaments to be held.
"This project offers the potential to bring Siouxlanders together for a very social sport. It's all about fun, fitness and friendship," she said. "It gives them a place to practice their skills, hold league play, offer beginner and advanced lessons and clinics, which will help grow the sport, and also host tournaments which can generate revenue and bring more people into Siouxland."
Mayor Bob Scott asked if the pickleball courts at Riverside would have lights. Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore said lights currently exist, but that he could look into upgrading to LED fixtures.
"Right now, the underground stuff is what's causing us problems, but we think we can work that in with the project," Salvatore said. "There's some underground issues with the wiring that we need to get fixed."
The council, in a split decision, also voted to move up a $350,000 request for a traffic signal at an intersection near Fleet Farm and Hobby Lobby into the 2020-21 fiscal year budget. Mayor Bob Scott and Councilman Pete Groetken voted "no."
A recent traffic study by McClure Engineering showed the need for a new signal at Sunnybrook Drive and Sergeant Road. According to city documents, another traffic signal will also need to be installed at Sunnybrook Drive and Lowe's Home Improvement's north entrance as the area is developed.
The council unanimously voted to fund a new $200,000 fire alarm system for the Convention Center with Redflex Traffic Systems revenue. The system will notify occupants of a fire by a voice instead of a chime tone.
"If this comes in at $160,000, I want to make sure that they don't spend $40,000 more," Scott said. "I'm going to move that this be funded with Redflex money. It's a public safety issue. I don't think we should bond for it."
At a budget meeting last month, Scott voiced frustration over the fact that the system wasn't installed during more than $3 million in Convention Center renovations, which were unveiled in November. At Wednesday's meeting, he said he was inclined to vote against the request on principle.
"That is not the way we ought to do business here," Scott said. "It just bothers the heck out of me that we have this problem now."
City Manager Bob Padmore said Fire Marshal Mark Aesoph agreed to sign off on the Convention Center's final fire inspection if the city committed to bringing the system up to grade in the next couple of years.
"When the ballroom addition was designed, it required changes to the fire alarm system. We were told by the architect who did the design that the new ballroom fire system would tie in with the existing Convention Center," Padmore said. "We found out that it didn't work as it was supposed to through the final walk-through."
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