Poulsbo Pickleball facility proposed, would tie into PERC

Group’s presentation shows 6 indoor, 4 outdoor courts

Some community members are proposing converting the vacant Office Max building at College Marketplace in Poulsbo into a regional pickleball facility.

They would form a public/private partnership that would tie into the new Poulsbo Events & Recreation Center, or PERC.

Clay Roberts, president of Bainbridge Island Pickleball, provided a presentation to the Poulsbo City Council May 2 about the proposal.

The design shows 10 pickleball courts would be built—six indoor and four outdoor. Other amenities include a kitchen, dining and bar, indoor game area, outdoor patio lounge, screen wall, outdoor fire pits, and supplemented landscape, per the presentation. There would be about 53 parking spots.

“It’s a sport that’s incredibly inclusive that allows 8-year-olds to play with 80-year-olds,” Roberts said. “It has as many women as it does men playing. It is growing at an incredible rate, over 10 percent a year. It’s an economic engine for communities.”

He added the facility could be of interest to students at the nearby Olympic College and Western Washington University campuses.

He said there is a lack of high-quality indoor pickleball courts in Kitsap County. The facility would provide leagues, lessons, tournaments, clinics, after-school programs and more. He said it could be also used for corporate and club events.

The estimated cost to renovate the facility would be about $250,000, Roberts said. Local pickleball community groups and supporters would help with fundraising efforts, while the city and parks department would be in charge of staffing and venue operation. Next steps include looking deeper into the financials, such as private fundraising and advertising/sponsorship opportunities, and lease details with the owner of the building.

“If you have 50 percent occupancy of this facility you break even,” Roberts told the council. “Beyond that, you begin to generate excess revenue. It would be a pay-to-play facility, but you would get to control what those rates look like. There could be times when it’s free to the public.”

About 80 people from various communities around the Olympic Peninsula attended the initial open house on the proposal. The Poulsbo Pickleball Community Advisory Group says it has received letters of support from many communities. The plan was developed with volunteer help, including architects, construction management professionals, real estate professionals, designers and others.

Poulsbo Councilmember Gary McVey said the facility is “almost perfectly” designed for indoor pickleball but had questions about how parks and rec would provide staffing since it has limited personnel.

PERC progress

The city is moving forward with Phase 1 of the PERC through partnership with the Kitsap Public Facilities District, or KPFD. It would consist of two tournament turf fields with outdoor recreation elements (walking circuit, sports courts, playground, parking/landscaping). The fields will be constructed in the College Marketplace area with the possibility of breaking ground next year. Upon construction, it is the city’s responsibility to maintain the PERC.

The tournament fields are estimated to cost $13 million with $8.71 million coming from KPFD and $4.29 million from the city. Phases 2 (event and recreation center) and 3 (outdoor recreation pool) are still up in the air as funding sources and locations have not been identified.

Poulsbo will seek grant assistance and other funding sources for its portion of Phase 1, per documents. KPFD can fund its portion of Phase 1 but its commitment to other regional partners would limit funding for the other two phases.

Additional land acquisition is necessary for the other two phases. Without KPFD funding other sources would be needed, such as voted bonds or a metropolitan park district.

Final site plans, engineering design and capital funding strategies for Phase 1 include: topographic survey, geotechnical investigations, land use and environmental permitting, civil site improvement/utility plans, architectural building design, project management and development of bid documents.

For Phases 2 and 3, additional analysis is needed including: facility programming and size; operations evaluation and staffing; facility management; maintenance; cost estimate for construction; and financial revenue and expenditure for operations and maintenance.

The city intends to work with KPFD to identify the preferred bonding structure, final funding split amounts, and action for construction funding of Phase 1.

“We haven’t lost sight of what we’re trying to achieve,” Councilmember Doug Newell said. “I do believe we’re trying to do the right thing by our community. I think we have options. I’m a strong believer in working together to make great things happen. If we can’t get there on the path we started on, let’s find another path.”

Mayor Becky Erickson added: “Phasing in local government is almost universally the way infrastructure gets built because we have to marry together pieces of money from a lot of different locations. We have every intention of moving on to Phase 2 and 3 when we find the funding, and we will find the funding.”