Outdoor Racket Court Facilities Master Plan

Overview

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A Plan for Future Improvement of Outdoor, Open-Play, Racket Sport Courts in Public Parks in Lincoln, Nebraska

The information shown on these project pages are from the August 17, 2022 Draft Version 

The Racket Court Facilities Master Plan(PDF, 1MB)  provides guidance for the development of outdoor, open-play racket sports facilities in Lincoln, NE, and prioritizes those improvements into near- and long-term projects.

PROCESS:

In June 2022, a Working Committee was formed to provide insight and advice to assist the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department (LPRD) in development of a plan to guide future public outdoor, open-play, racket sport court improvements and additions. These individuals represented tennis and pickleball organizations, casual players, professional coaches, and representatives of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Residents have until October 12 to review and comment on the draft Outdoor Racket Court Facilities Master Plan.

Working Committee Goals:

  • Establish a Level of Service for public, outdoor, open-play Pickleball and Tennis courts in Lincoln’s parks.
  • Analyze potential sites for public, outdoor, open-play Pickleball and Tennis improvement/expansion (both dedicated and dual striped).
  • Establish development standards for base level service and possible enhancements on public, outdoor, open-play courts.
  • Discuss management of play on public outdoor, open-play courts.

The Working Committee held four meetings over the period from June 9 through August 11, 2022. The following Master Plan was developed with input received in those meeting.

MEMBERS:

  • William Roehrs
  • Vince Ganshorn
  • Bradley Brandt
  • Mark Nelson
  • Tammy Poe
  • John Reinhardt
  • Christopher Salem
  • Molly Heeney-Dunn.

Thank you to the Working Committee!

Public Input

The public was consulted at two points in the facilities master planning process. First, a survey was posted online April 18, 2022, and was held open through May 8, 2022. The survey was advertised through social media and a general press release. User groups were also contacted via email and asked to use their email lists to promote the survey. There were responses received from 1,287 individuals. A short report of the survey results is attached to this Master Plan as Appendix 1. These results were reviewed by the Working Committee at their first meeting and provided information used in developing this master plan.

The Draft Racket Court Facilities Master Plan was released to the public on August 17, 2022, for review and comment. All comments received were shared with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for their consideration. Residents have until October 12 to review and comment on the draft Outdoor Racket Court Facilities Master Plan.

 

Existing Conditions

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In the Lincoln Parks and Recreation system, Racket Sport Courts are generally included as a part of the programming for Community Parks. These parks are larger facilities that serve an area approximately 3 miles in radius. They typically include services such as picnic areas, playgrounds, shelters, play fields, play courts, trail access, parking, restrooms, and are usually located on major streets. While they are intended to serve a larger area, they do also provide Neighborhood Park services to the immediate area. In the past, tennis courts were occasionally included in the design of Neighborhood Parks. While they are currently not part of the standard neighborhood park program, some of these courts are still in service.

Click on map below to open PDF in a new window.

LPR-RacketMasterPlan-Existing.jpg(PDF, 429KB)

Community Parks with Racket Sport Courts

Community Parks with Racket Sport Courts

T = Tennis court, PB = Pickleball Court

Densmore  (2T 0PB) good Basketball courts adjacent not used
Tierra  (1T 0PB) fair Full basketball adjacent
Irvingdale  (2T full, 2T Jr, PB) fair Resilient surface (aging), lighting
Eden  (2T 4PB) good
Seacrest  (4T 0PB) good Lighting, next to East High
Peter Pan  (2T 0PB) fair
Seng  (2T 4PB) poor Lighting
Ballard  (2T 4PB) good
Mahoney  (3T 0PB) good Lighting
Roper East  (2T 2PB) good
Air Park West  (2T 0PB) poor Asphalt courts
Petersen  (0T 10PB) good Resilient surface

Neighborhood Parks with Racket Sport Courts

Neighborhood Parks with Racket Sport Courts

T = Tennis court, PB = Pickleball Court

Henry  (2T 4PB) good Lighting
Roberts  (2T 4PB) good Lighting
Piedmont  (2T 0PB) good
Cooper  (1T 2PB) good
UPCO  (2T 2PB) fair
Tyrrell  (2T 2PB) fair Lighting
Highlands  (2T 2PB) poor Resilient surface (failed)

 

Proposed Design Standards

Current design standards for tennis and pickleball facilities are generally based upon the accepted court dimensions as defined by the US Tennis Association and USA Pickleball. Typical facilities include a concrete surface with painted striping, perimeter fencing, and permanent/in-ground net posts with nets installed seasonally. Input from the Working Committee lead to changes in the base level design standards for tennis and pickleball courts, in particular the importance of resilient surfacing and, for pickleball, low fencing between courts. These new base level design standards are described below.

FACILITY TYPES

Dedicated Multi-court Tennis Facilities

These facilities include two or more tennis courts within a perimeter fence. They generally consist of concrete slab on grade with a resilient coating surface. These facilities are striped for tennis only and do not include dual striping. Facility nets are installed seasonally to permanent support posts.

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Photo:  Irvingdale Park tennis courts.

Dedicated Multi-court Pickleball Facilities

Courts may vary in number or be developed in clusters to provide a larger facility. They generally consist of concrete slab on grade with a resilient coating surface. The courts are surrounded with perimeter fencing and include low height interior fencing to separate individual courts. These facilities are striped for pickleball and do not include dual striping. Facility nets are installed seasonally to permanent support posts.

LPR-PARK-PETERS-pickleb4.jpg

Photo: A pickleball game at Peterson Park.

Dual Use Courts

Dual-use courts include at least one tennis court with overlying pickleball court lines that allow pickleball play over the tennis net, or the use of portable nets to set up a pickleball court on each side of the tennis net. Dual-use courts may be on a resilient surface or may have striping on a concrete surface. Dual-use courts are within a perimeter fence but do not include permanent low fencing between courts. Dual use nets are installed seasonally to permanent support posts.

LPR-Racket-dualstripedcourt.png

Diagram showing dual-use striping to create 2 tennis courts and 4 pickleball courts

Dedicated Tennis Courts

Dedicated tennis courts include one or more tennis courts within a perimeter fence that include striping for use as a tennis court only. These courts are concrete surfaced with painted striping. Nets are installed seasonally to permanent support posts.

LPR-tennis.jpg

Photo: Youth play a pick up match at Peter Pan Park.

Dedicated Pickleball Courts

Dedicated pickleball courts include one or more pickleball courts within a perimeter fence that include striping for use as a pickleball court only. These courts are concrete surfaced with painted striping. These courts include low height fencing between courts, seasonally installed nets, and permanent support posts.

Other Dual-use Opportunities

In some cases, it may be possible to share use between other sports that require a solid surface court. Opportunity for integrating with sports such as basketball, handball, and roller hockey should be considered.

ENHANCEMENTS

The facilities described above represent the base design standards for racket courts. Enhancements such as additional benches for seating, hard surface pads/shelters to house portable restrooms, windscreens, additional drinking fountains, shade shelters and other desirable amenities are sometimes included as part of a private fundraising campaign or as a donation from an individual or entity. When these enhancements are added, long-term maintenance and replacement costs must also be considered. Often the enhancements are coordinated through Lincoln Parks Foundation, which may also manage an endowment for their ongoing care and replacement.

Level of Service and recommended improvements

Recommended Level of Service for Lincoln Racket Sport Courts

The recommended level of service (LOS) for outdoor, open-play, racket sport courts in Lincoln, NE, is based upon provision of service in geographic regions of the City. The Proposed LOS is:

  • one multi-court dedicated tennis facility in each quadrant of the City (NE, SE, NW, SW).
  • one multi-court dedicated pickleball facility in each quadrant of the City.
  • Improvements should also be made to existing racket sport courts in Community Parks to include resilient surfacing and dual use courts.
  • Racket sport courts in neighborhood parks should generally remain concrete surfaced with single or dual use striping.

LPR-PARK-PETERS-pickleb2.jpg

RECOMMENDED IMPROVEMENTS AND ADDITIONS 

Community Parks with Racket Sport Courts

Community Parks with Racket Sport Courts

T = Tennis court, PB = Pickleball Court

Densmore:   (2T 6PB) Add resilient surface to 2 dual use, and convert former basketball area to 2 pickleball courts, add fencing to separate pickleball courts.”
Tierra (1T 0PB) No change recommended
Irvingdale  (5T, 2PB) resurface (resilient surface) three full size tennis courts and add two courts dual striped for Jr. tennis and pickleball
Eden (0T 6PB) Convert to multi-court dedicated pickleball courts with resilient surface
Seacrest (4T 0PB) No change recommended
Peter Pan (2T 0PB) No change recommended
Seng (2T 4PB) Reconstruct to dual-use with resilient surface, or with dual-use striping only
Ballard (0T 6PB) Convert to multi-court dedicated pickleball courts with resilient surface
Mahoney (3T 0PB) Convert to multi-court dedicated tennis courts with resilient surface
Roper East (2T 4PB) Convert to dual-use courts, concrete surface
Air Park West (2T 6PB) Reconstruct as multi-court dedicated tennis and/or multi-court dedicated pickleball courts
Petersen (0T 10PB) No change recommended

Neighborhood Parks with Racket Sport Courts

Neighborhood Parks with Racket Sport Courts

T = Tennis court, PB = Pickleball Court

Henry (2T 4PB) No change recommended (dual-use courts)
Roberts (2T 4PB) No change recommended (dual-use courts)
Piedmont (2T 0PB) No change recommended
Cooper (1T 2PB) No change recommended
UPCO (2T 4PB) Convert to dual-use concrete surface
Tyrrell (2T 4PB) Convert to dual-use concrete surface
Highlands (1T 2PB) Reconstruct as single dual-use court, concrete surface

 

Potential New Facility Sites

Jensen Park (Community):

The current conceptual master plan for future development of Jensen Park in southeast Lincoln includes an area identified for a large multi-court dedicated pickleball facility (16 courts). The plan could be amended to include a multi-court dedicated tennis facility as well should demand create the need for additional tennis courts. Both pickleball and tennis facilities could be constructed in phases and potentially share amenities such as shelters and restrooms. An access drive and parking area will need to be constructed prior to or concurrent with development of these courts.

Fleming Fields (Community):

Per the master plan for Fleming Fields, an area in the southeast corner of this community park in northeast Lincoln has been identified for a future development of a hard surface play court(s). The area is large enough to accommodate a multi-court dedicated pickleball facility consisting of 6-8 courts. Expansion of the existing ballfield complex parking lot immediately north of this area should be included with development of these courts.

Future Northwest Community Park:

A future community park is envisioned for the northwest quadrant of Lincoln. During the master planning process for this community park, both the addition of pickleball and tennis court facilities should be considered.

 

 

 

Prioritization

At this time, the future Level of Service for Lincoln’s public outdoor open-play racket court facilities has been set at one multi-court dedicated tennis and one multi-court dedicated pickleball facility in each quadrant of the City. To fulfill this goal, the construction of new facilities will be needed. To meet current service demand in a shorter time frame, the Working Committee was asked to prioritize the above projects for near-term planning, generally defined as approximately the next 10 years.

Click on Proposed Racket Court Improvements map below to open PDF in a new window.

(PDF, 428KB)Proposed Racket Court Improvements Map Sept262022.jpg(PDF, 429KB)

 

First Priority

Multicourt Dedicated Tennis Facility:

In the near term, providing a multi-court dedicated tennis facility in both the north and south halves of Lincoln was the highest priority in order to serve the community’s tennis players.

Mahoney Park: 

 The existing tennis concrete courts in Mahoney Park (north) present an opportunity to provide a requested dedicated tennis facility for a relatively low capital cost. Surfacing of the existing three courts with resilient surfacing is considered a priority, as well as consideration for the addition of a fourth court constructed along the east edge of the existing courts. This will require some grading, relocation of some utilities, and removal of two ash trees.

Irvingdale Park: 

The existing tennis courts in Irvingdale Park (south) were surfaced with resilient surfacing in 2014 through a grant from the USTA and they are beginning to show the need for resurfacing. In 2014, the three-court complex was reconfigured into 2 full-sized tennis courts and 2 junior-sized courts. Returning the 2 Jr. size courts to a single full size court, and then providing additional space on the east side of the complex for two courts dual striped for pickleball and Jr. tennis will provide a tennis complex that meets the LOS goal as well as providing pickleball and Jr. tennis courts.

Multicourt Dedicated Pickleball Facility:

Pickleball has seen a great deal of growth in the past several years and is currently considered the fastest growing sport in the nation. The demand for additional multi-court dedicated pickleball facilities is extremely high. Currently, a 10-court dedicated pickleball facility is available in the southwest quadrant of Lincoln at Peterson Park. Development of two additional multi-court dedicated pickleball facilities in the southeast and northeast quadrants of the City is desirable.

Eden & Ballard Parks: 

 The existing concrete courts at Eden Park (southeast) and Ballard Park (northeast), both community parks, are currently striped for dual-use and considered very active for pickleball. Converting these two facilities to multi-court dedicated pickleball facilities will take advantage of an existing concrete base and fencing as well as other amenities such as parking and restrooms, without putting additional pressure on adjacent neighbors.

Second Priority

Jensen Park: 

 As the City continues to grow to the south and southeast, the addition of community park services has not been expanded to serve the new population. As a secondary priority, development of a multi-court pickleball and multi-court tennis facility at Jensen Park could serve the racket sport needs in this developing area.

Air Park West Park:

 Residential growth is also moving quickly in the northwest part of the City, particularly near the location of the new Northwest High School on NW 48th and Holdrege Streets. Air Park West Park is a large flat area which currently is home to ball fields, the Air Park Recreation Center, and the Arnold Heights Swimming Pool. With construction of the new Air Park Community Center near NW 48th and Cumming Streets and consideration to relocate the swimming pool to that same site in the future when the Arnold Heights swimming pool has served its useful life, Air Park West Park will be experiencing changes over time. The topography of the land lends itself well to development of racket courts and this amenity type is in low supply in the northwest quadrant.

Other Priority Projects

Completion of the above set of First and Second Priority projects will raise the community up to the recommended Level of Service. There are additional projects that are not specifically designated as priorities to meet the recommended Level of Service; however, they have the potential to yield significant benefits to the community. Should opportunities arise to fund these projects, they should be considered for prioritization.

  • Fleming Fields Park: Development of a new multi-court dedicated pickleball facility (6-8 courts).
  • Densmore Park: Add resilient surfacing and convert tennis courts to two dual-use courts; convert former basketball area to two pickleball courts, add fencing to separate pickleball courts.
  • Seng Park at University Place: Reconstruction of two dual-use courts with or without resilient surfacing.
  • Highlands Park: Reconstruction of two dual-use courts to a single dual-use court with concrete surfacing.
  • Roper Park: Convert two existing tennis courts to two dual-use courts with concrete surfacing.
  • Tyrrell Park: Convert two existing tennis courts to two dual-use courts with concrete surfacing.
  • UPCO Park: Convert two existing tennis courts to two dual-use courts with concrete surfacing.

 

 

Remaining Courts

It is noted that this plan does not recommend changes to all the existing racket sport courts within the LPRD system. Some of the courts are recommended to remain as they are being used today, with the appropriate maintenance and repair over time.

Courts recommended to remain as dedicated tennis courts with concrete surface:

Courts recommended to remain as dual-use courts with concrete surface:

Courts recommended to remain as multi-court dedicated pickleball facilities:

Brown Park's sign reads,

Long Term Maintenance and Repair

Changes to the design standards for multi-court dedicated facilities and some other facilities to include resilient surfacing are envisioned to significantly improve the quality of play available on LPRD’s public open-play racket courts. This is anticipated to create additional opportunities for those who are not able to participate in pay-for-play programs at public or private facilities. However, it should be noted that the addition of resilient surfacing will also add to the ongoing maintenance and repair costs of these facilities and thus an added burden to LPRD’s budget.

Resilient surfacing quality is continuously being improved. Currently, most manufacturers advertise a replacement cycle of between 5 and 10 years, depending on usage, care and sunlight exposure. For purposes of this facilities master plan, an assumed life cycle of 7 years has been used. This same number of years has been assumed for striping on concrete courts. Nets also have a limited life cycle and a replacement period of approximately 8 years. Fencing, net posts and all concrete is assumed to have a life cycle of approximately 50 years. When the long-term maintenance and replacement of improvements is figured into a life cycle, costs can multiply quickly. Covering these costs so that facilities can function at their intended level throughout their life cycle is a challenge that will need to be addressed as part of the budgeting process.

Management of Play

Like most other recreational opportunities in public parks, racket sport courts are open for play by anyone in the community. There are private groups that organize matches for their membership utilizing public facilities, and this can be done in a number of different ways.

Pickleball Lincoln Inc. (PLI) is a 501(c)(3) organization that advocates for the sport, raises funds for playing venues, provides training, and organizes competitions. PLI operates under a license agreement with the City of Lincoln which allows for priority use of specific courts during defined times. The time periods and location are negotiated as a part of the annual license agreement process. All scheduling is done through PLI in accordance with the license agreement. Courts remain open to the public outside the identified hours of priority use and can also be used by the public if they are not occupied by PLI members during the identified hours. Signage is posted at the courts included in the license agreement that identifies the available hours and protocol for rotating into open play times.

The Ace Bandage Tennis League (ABTL) is a flex tennis league that organizes matches between its members, but leaves scheduling of the time and location of the match up to the players. Because the location and time of those matches is set by the individual players, a lease agreement is not currently required for this model.

The Woods Tennis organization also uses some of the public tennis courts outside the Woods Tennis Center as part of their community outreach programming. PLI coordinates with Woods Tennis to ensure courts are available for community outreach programming. Schedules posted on PLI website include notification of court use by Woods Tennis.

Through a reciprocal agreement between the City and Lincoln Public Schools, some tennis and pickleball courts are used by the public schools. Typically schools contact LPRD and provide dates and times that a court may be used. The reciprocal agreement allows LPS properties to be used by the public in exchange for this service.

At this time, these models appear to be adequately serving their respective organizations and continuation is recommended. Should the demand for courts create conflicts that require a change to these practices, LPR will reevaluate, seek public input, and make adjustments accordingly.

In order to provide information regarding court availability for drop-in use, the Parks and Recreation Department will gather information from PLI, Woods Tennis, and Lincoln Public Schools to post to the City’s website so the public can determine court availability in advance.