By Barbie Porter
The Vergas Park Board expanded its idea for a recreational sporting site in the city to include pickleball courts, a basketball court, playground and possibly a Frisbee golf course.
The main focus that spurred the idea of a sports area started with installing pickleball courts. The popularity of the game has exploded nationwide and is a cross between badminton, table tennis and tennis. A park board member said Detroit Lakes installed eight courts last year and are set to build another six this year.
The Vergas Park Board is planning to install four pickleball courts, which would open the opportunity to host tournaments. The location for the recreation area has been pinpointed to be next to the little league field, which is behind the main baseball diamond along Frazee Avenue.
The board member said the property was staked out and concerns about adequate space alleviated. It was stated there were no issues with a neighboring property owner accessing his gate, and there was ample room for parking if little league were to return.
The board member stated the distance from the pickleball court to the fence of the baseball field would have 15 feet between, which would allow for seating at sporting events.
The second phase of the recreational area would offer a full-size basketball court. It was noted there has been interest expressed by residents to provide the amenity. In addition to recreational opportunities for residents, the court could open up tournament opportunities.
The estimated cost of the four pickleball courts with fencing was $127,000 and the basketball court (60-foot by 90-foot) was $25,000. The board plans to seek grants, corporate sponsors and fundraise.
The park board suggested adding the basketball court at the same time as the pickleball court, if finances allowed, as it would save money.
A third phase being considered would offer a natural playground or Frisbee golf course. The golf course could also utilize the little league space if that activity continues to remain inactive.
The board was asked if the basketball organizers had been brought into the conversation. It was noted the discussion has been circulating in the community, as well as in the newspaper, and no concerns have been expressed to the park board from that group.
If the project came to fruition, the city would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance. However, the board said an association may be formed to assist with those costs. The funds from tournaments would be put towards equipment and upkeep.
The city attorney said the city should make sure there are no easements in the project area and that it owns the property.
Vergas City Clerk Julie Lammers said the city does own the property and there was a platted road going across it, but the council has already went through the vacation process.
The final consideration the city attorney suggested was drawing up an agreement as far as the city involvement, as well as putting in black and white that the raised funds would go towards parks if the project did not reach completion.