ASHLAND -- The Ashland Pickleball Association will resubmit a bid this month to install new pickleball courts for the community as the city continues to fundraise for the venue.
APA initiated a campaign to renovate the courts at Cahn Grove Park into a 6-court pickleball complex in November 2020 and raised $153,000 in less than six weeks, APA President Norma Sturgeon said. While APA surpassed its initial fundraising goal, a minimum of $130,000 between Nov. 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021, the bid APA received when initially submitting to city council came back too high.
Ashland mayor Matt Miller said he was disappointed that APA could not accept the first bid, as it was over 10% of the cost estimate, but he was not surprised given rising construction costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miller and APA president Norma Sturgeon decided on June 3 to go to bid a second time at the next city council meeting, Miller said.
“Our plan is on June 15, we will go to bid again,” Miller said. “This time, however, our project estimate will be higher than it was the first time we bid.”
APA needs to raise an additional $50,000 for the courts — the deficit between the bid received last time and the amount APA raised, Sturgeon said. The total cost estimate for the project is now $200,000, Sturgeon said.
The City of Ashland continues to endorse APA’s effort to renovate the courts, Miller said.
In the fall, the city committed to installing lighting and paved walkways for the courts, and since then Miller has also taken efforts into his own hands.
“I have been reaching out, or have reached out, to several foundations and organizations to see if they would be willing to contribute toward the project because it’s going to benefit so many people here in our city,” Miller said.
Current major donors include individuals — Tom and Bonnie McGee; Jack and Norma Sturgeon; Judith Ebert; Rob and Chris Stoops; Lloyd and Norma Wygant; and Robert and Janet Archer — as well as the Samaritan Hospital Foundation, University Hospital Samaritan Medical Center and the Ashland County Community Foundation.
“Even though they had a really successful fundraising effort, they now find themselves still short of the dollars that are needed to actually do the project,” Ashland County Community Foundation President and CEO Jim Cutright said.
ACCF provided APA a capstone grant, meaning it will fund the final $10,000 of the project, Cutright said.
While there is no concrete timeline for when the court construction will begin or be completed, as additional funding is still needed, Sturgeon hopes people will be able to play on the courts by the end of 2021.
If APA can accept a bid on June 15, then the timeline will be at the mercy of the contractor, she said.
Miller views the pickleball construction as a community improvement project and a chance for public-private partnership.
“Even though this project is all about pickleball courts and pickleball, the truth is the increased activity that will come into this park will help improve that whole area in our city,” he said.