Plans are released this week to add four pickleball courts and other amenities to Linden Park. Town Council members say before things move further, they want to hear from neighbors of the West Main Road park.
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PICKLEBALL AND MORE COULD BE IN STORE
FOR LINDEN PARK
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NOVEMBER 4, 2021) – New pickleball courts and more could be on the way for Linden Park.
Earlier this week, the Town Council got its first look at conceptual plans to remake the community park at 141 West Main Road next door to the International House of Pancakes restaurant and several homes.
As part of those plans, four new pickleball courts would be built in the southwest corner of the park in front of several tall trees there. The playground, drainage and parking would be improved, a new bathroom facility installed and a new 125-foot by 300-foot recreation field created along the northern part of the park.
Before the Town gets any deeper into the planning process, council President Paul M. Rodrigues asked that the neighbors be brought up to speed on the preliminary project.
“I’d like to know what the neighbors think,” Rodrigues said. “This is a big change to that park...I just think it’s right that we find out what their concerns may be.”
More than ever before, the Town of Middletown is looking to expand and improve its open spaces and opportunities for recreational activities.
When it comes to those facilities, some only think of Second and Third beaches, the crown jewels of the community. While the Town works hard to keep the beaches among the best on the East Coast, there’s much more to Middletown recreation and those have been a focus too.
Among those include Middletown Park behind the Aquidneck Shopping Centre, Demery Park on Riverview Avenue and Paradise Valley Park on Prospect Avenue, among others. For a list of such places in Middletown, visit https://mdl.town/Facilities online.
With the rise in popularity of the racquet sport, a group emerged recently, looking to see if a new dedicated pickleball facility could be built in Town.
Currently, there are no courts specifically for pickleball in Middletown, although games take place on the street hockey rink at Howland Park.
Several locations were considered for the new courts in Town, including the Gaudet Athletic Complex. But in the end, Linden Park emerged as the top option for several reasons.
In addition to having the needed space for the pickleball courts, there’s a feeling among some that the west side property is underutilized. There’s also plenty of existing parking, it’s located on a bus line and there’s a traffic light to make accessing the property easy. The area where the courts would be built is marked out by four wooden stakes topped by pink flags and spray paint.
“I like the field in there,” council Vice President Thomas P. Welch III said. “While we’re making a mess, let’s make a mess. I’m all for that. If we’re going to improve that whole park, that playground is awful. I don’t know if anyone has been to that playground with your kids, but yuck. I say we keep our foot on the gas and look at that too.”
Councilwoman Terri Flynn said she didn’t want the Town to lock itself into something too quickly, especially with the ongoing discussion about senior affordable housing.
“With the Middletown Affordable Housing Committee working on a package of, whether it be locations or funding, pickleball and senior housing kind of go hand in hand,” Flynn said. “I always thought that until a decision was made that we didn’t need the Linden Park for housing, that it should stay on the table in case we did need that area for housing.”
Speaking to the council, Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said the scope of the proposal for Linden Park expanded since it was last discussed. He said the thinking was to present a complete concept for the site instead of simply pickleball.
In the end, he said the expanded concept was just an idea and it was up to the council how to move forward, if at all. The price tag for the remake of the entire parcel was about $691,000, with the pickleball courts alone costing $357,000. Brown said the Town would be seeking grant funding to offset the cost of the project.
“Rather than bring the council just simply pickleball and an unanswered story, we tried to give the project more content and from a long-term standpoint,” Brown said.