Working with Cities and Parks and Recreation Districts

We think, sometimes, that we pickleball fanatics believe everyone should immediately share our passion, even if they’ve scarcely heard of our favorite game. And they (the City, say) should, whip to attention immediately, take that unused tennis court down on Maple Street, throw a quick re-surface and lines on it, put in a couple of nets and let us go. Being taxpayers and so on, isn’t that our just due?

Reality would tell us “Not so much”. Actually, on rare occasions things DO move quickly when you are working with a city and/or with a Park and Recreation District, but more ordinarily this work takes time and requires certain attributes be employed. And you won’t always get a positive reception. Note things we ourselves have heard in the parenthesis below. (NOTE: don’t be put off if you feel that you don’t feel you have what it takes right now. Remember the mantra often attributed to cosmetic tycoon Mary Kay Ash, “Fake it ’til you make it!’ – which in this context means, “Nobody can see how scared I am…I will carry on, and I AM talking about something I like!” And after awhile, it gets easier):

  1. Patience (“The skateboard park has been in line for funding for ten years! We have to do that first!”)
  2. Professionalism(“PICKLEBALL? That’s just for old people, isn’t it?” or “We don’t want all you people parking all over our neighborhood parks!”)
  3. A willingness to establish and nurture relationships
  4. An ability to hear opposing points of view (“Tennis players don’t want to share space with you,” or “It’s too noisy, all these people laughing…and the sound of that plastic ball…”)
  5. An ability to sell your case (“Our last survey showed pickleball was 14th, next to last in the polls. Nobody in town wants pickleball!”)
  6. More patience (“Oh, well, if we’re going to put the pickleball courts THERE it will require a change in our master plan. That’s three months minimum ’till the first hearings!”)
  7. An ability to raise money (“We’ll provide the land and the parking. You take care of the rest!”)

So, if you have contacted your local City or your Park and Recreation District, you’ve been put off a few times, but now you have an opportunity to present to the District, which has heard a little bit about pickleball but not so much, what do you do?

One of the tactics we like to employ is to provide a very generalized PowerPoint presentation that we can talk from. If you are not comfortable doing this, you can contact your local USAPA Ambassador (if you are not yourself one of those) and ask him or her for support. You can also use the presentation below, which is provided as an OpenOffice document (you can read and edit it from PowerPoint or other presentation software equally easily.) This presentation will allow you to give a few generalized facts about pickleball and, most important, will give you the opportunity to ask a next step. We aren’t trying to tell you what you should ask for, each case is different, but give it a try. There are two here; one a general USAPA presentation and, based on it, a customization for the City of Redmond.

USAPA Presentation

Presentation to the City of Redmond

Once you have made  your presentation, you will be asked for various other information. Some of what we’ve provided to various entities is shown below. Hopefully some of it will help. Feel free to ask if there’s something else you’d like…see our email below in the footer of this page.

It’s pretty sure you will be asked to do a joint clinic at some point with your Parks and Recreation District. Sometimes this is ‘cuz they’ve had demand, sometimes it’s ‘cuz they want to see if there IS interest. In any event you’ll be asked to produce an event and a flyer. Here’s a nice flyer done by our friend Jack Hodges in Kauai.

You may be asked to provide a Funding Plan. Here’s a copy of one we provided.

If part of your funding plan is securing grants, the Parks and Recreation District will be rightfully skeptical as they are hard to get. But not impossible, as this site contributed by Marian Pasala shows.

You’ll probably be asked to provide a Construction Estimate. You may work with the agency on this…we’d prefer that, ourselves. Construct it so that you can check it against bids when the agency receives them. Remember that all public projects over a certain dollar amount will probably require competitive bids. They can vary dramatically. (This OpenOffice Calc document can open in Excel or any other spreadsheet program.)

From time to time you’ll have the opportunity to put out a Press Release celebrating some milestone or other in your funding or construction process. Remember that if you mention the City or PRD agency in any way you MUST run the Press Release by them first. Press Releases often result in requests for interviews for feature articles in newspaper, on public radio or on TV. Note these requests will often come in within 24 hours of your putting out the Press Release. So make sure you or your delegate has their correct phone number in the PR and will be monitoring their phone for that critical first 24 hours!

 

2 Comments

  • February 13, 2019

    Hi there-I’ve been involved in starting a club at our local courts, and now have been asked to provide a proposal to the park district about adding lights to the courts. I think some of the documents would be helpful, but the links are broken. Is there another way I can access the documents? Thanks!

    • Us
      April 11, 2019

      Sorry about that! Over the years, our faithful readers have been through this issue with us several times. It’s always the same issue although providers change. At some point whatever service we are using to serve those files to you goes glitchy. DropBox for Business cost us two months one time, and Google Drive is now doing it to us again. We can’t even access the documents ourselves at this moment. One of the joys of running a volunteer site is we simply run out of time to “discuss” these things or (more usually) find a way through it ourselves. It’s been awhile since you wrote (two months) and we are still not back on the air. Assume another month. Sorry we can’t help right now but don’t give up on us.

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