Aug. 9 – ALBANY – Will third time be the charm of a County Dougherty tennis and pickleball center?
With the selection of land on the former location of the Georgia National Guard Armory, the latter site has a feature that the first two did not have in that the county already owns it.
But the 18 acres of the former military building located at 1500 N. Monroe St. and 409 Eighth Ave. could become more, with housing and a new fire hall for the Albany Fire Department.
Housing and the fire station are being considered as part of a master plan for the site discussed at a Dougherty County Commission meeting on Monday. The county received a design rendering of the proposal and report.
The county is committed to the sports facility, which would include 12 regulation tennis courts and an equal number of pickleball courts, some of which could be housed indoors, Commissioner Victor Edwards said in a phone interview. tuesday.
“The tennis court is going to go away again,” said Edwards, who is a member of the commission’s recreation committee. “The others are still under consideration. The fire station is still a question mark. The apartments are of great interest to us, because it is housing.”
The county has $1.7 million in revenue from a previous special local sales tax that is earmarked for the tennis facility. The tennis courts would occupy approximately 3.5 acres.
Prior to reviewing the former National Guard site, the county initially requested a partnership with Albany State University to add courts to its West Campus and later proposed to build additional courts on property owned by the City of Albany at Tift Park. Both proposals failed before the search for another site.
The Recreation Department first identified the former National Guard location as a potential site in December 2021.
The move on the draft is “good news,” said Albany Tennis & Pickleball Association board member Wes Sadler.
Pickleball has exploded in popularity, with double-digit percentage growth in players over five years, according to pickleballusa.orggrowing 14.8% to reach 4.8 million gamers nationwide in 2020 after a number growth of more than 21% the previous year.
Participation in tennis also increased by 21% in 2021, mainly due to people seeking outdoor activities that allowed for social distancing during the pandemic, Sadler said, citing figures from the US Tennis Association. .
“I think it will ‘increase interest in tennis and pickleball,’ he said of the site. “It is, I think, a convenient location for people coming from out of town near the ring road.”
Due to the popularity of pickleball, which is played by players of all ages, “it’s hard to get on a court these days,” Sadler said. “I think that would be the fastest to take off.”
It’s also important to have staff available at the facility, Sadler said. The association would participate by volunteering and helping with tournaments, which would attract out-of-town visitors.
“There are resources available through the Georgia Pickleball Association,” he said. “They have resources that can help us with marketing and tournaments. Having a facility with 12 pickleball courts will really help attract top players and encourage people to get into the sport.”