BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A move is underway to convert the tennis courts at Victory Park in Fort Madison into six pickleball courts.
Fort Madison City Councilwoman Donna Amandus is part of a group spearheading the effort. She said preliminary estimates indicate the work will cost about $130,000 and the committee is looking for donations.
“Pickleball has become very popular. You always have to wait for the court at the YMCA,” Amandus said. She said she tried the game Friday and enjoyed it.
A tour of the Fort Madison Park Board earlier this year through Victory Park started the conversation about the transition.
The courts are the only courts in town with lighting for night play and are centrally located. However, Fort Madison does have 10 other tennis courts, six at Fort Madison High School and four at Holy Trinity Catholic that are available to the public.
The tennis courts in Victory Park were refurbished in the 2015, but the work didn’t last very long and the court itself, which was an overlay, began to ripple quickly and the courts became unusable.
Original plans included utilizing more of the park space just west of the courts to expand and add a couple pickleball courts, but Amandus said the committee is looking at just replacing the entire facility with pickleball.
“With that plan we could’ve only done two pickleball courts. So we’re gonna put our heart and soul into making all six.”
The group overseeing the effort is the Fort Madison Pickleball Association. They won’t apply for non-profit status, but instead are going to be working with the Fort Madison Beautification Foundation, which is a 501c3 non-profit to channel donations and grants.
She said Keokuk and Mt. Pleasant both have secured $25,000 grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to build those pickleball facilities and this group will be pursuing that option as well.
Other members of the committee include Bev Brockman, Lynn Hoyer, Sandy Miller, Phyllis Porter, Sharon Bartlett and Rita Holtkamp.
Amandus said the committee is currently taking donations to help with the transition and checks can be sent to the Fort Madison Beautification Foundation with “PickleBall” written in the memo line. Checks can be sent to Pickleball Association Treasurer Lynn Hoyer at 10 High Point in Fort Madison.
Anyone wanting more information or to help with the efforts is encouraged to contact Brockman at 372-7502 or Amandus at 470-4881.