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Peter Fleming, vice president of Pikes Peak Pickleball Association, reviews a proposed pickleball court display during a June 4 public meeting at the Bear Creek Nature Center.

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A proposal to make certain improvements to Bear Creek Regional Park is getting favorable reactions from the pickleball community.

During a June 4 meeting at the Bear Creek Nature Center, El Paso County Parks representatives discussed the proposed improvements that include replacing the main park restroom and completing fencing around the perimeter of Bear Creek Dog Park. Replacing the southern tennis courts with pickleball courts and upgrading parking lots/roadways also was discussed.

About 30 residents were encouraged to provide feedback and participate in a Q&A session. Residents said they’re excited about the proposals as Bear Creek Regional Park is more than picnic areas, soccer fields and miles of trails, but a way of life for the ultimate outdoors enthusiast.

According to Tim Wolken, director of the El Paso County Community Services Department, the project centers on providing high-quality and safe recreation experience for park users. Protecting infrastructure and maintaining the conservation values per the Park’s conservation easement also figure in the proposal.

Project objectives include continuing with forest-management efforts designed to enhance plant health, native-species diversity and wildfire mitigation to protect property and improve user experiences.

“We’re looking to make our existing facilities last a long time, but also are looking at making some additions,” Wolken said.

The proposal to remove and repurpose the main restroom sparked residents’ interest. According to Paul Whalen, landscape architect for El Paso County Parks, the main restroom is about 40 years old and in need of upgrading. The goal is to remove and replace the restroom and improve site drainage, he said.

Whalen said expanding the facility will increase capacity and enhance sanitary conditions all while meeting Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Because it will be brought up to code, the new facility has the potential to attract park visitors and enhance experiences. “Through this project, there is a lot of vision and hope for the park,” Whalen said.

Bear Creek Dog Park users were pleased to learn that upgrade fencing along the parks’ northern and eastern boundary is scheduled for completion later this year. “We’re going to finish the fencing for all of you dog lovers,” Wolken said as residents laughed.

Installing pickleball courts commanded the most attention. Brian Bobeck, park operations division manager for the county services department, said extreme cracking has rendered the south tennis courts unusable.

The goal is to demolish the south courts and build 12 pickleball courts complete with pad preparation, post-tension concrete, fencing and netting. The north tennis courts will remain subject to future upgrade, Bobeck said.

Joe Jackson, president of Pikes Peak Pickleball Association, welcomes the opportunity for a new pickleball court. According to Jackson, the PPPA boasts about 1,041 devout pickleball players and that a new court would better accommodate the association’s growing membership.

“The facility has become overrun and we wanted to jump on the opportunity to improve it,” Jackson said. “This opportunity is the chance of a lifetime and we would be foolish to not go with it.” Bobeck agreed: “These courts have reached the end of their life and the southern courts are in even worse condition.”

PPPA Vice President Peter Fleming added. “We have a lot of pickleball players and the courts aren’t that great, so we’re excited about getting a new court.” Cheyenne Mountain resident Carolyn Sparks added, “I play pickleball at the Westside Community Center in Old Colorado and am excited about having a facility closer to Skyview.”

According to Wolken, the implementation plan calls for $465,000 from 1A TABOR funds and $75,000 from Regional Park fees. Lottery funds would produce $16,000, fundraising, $200,000 and county/city Forestry funds, $40,000 for a total of $940,000.

Removal of the south tennis courts is scheduled for August-September this year. Project plans and specifications are expected to be finalized between July and October with bid project construction slated for November-December.

Project construction is scheduled for January through June 2020, with pickleball court reconstruction set for April to June 2020.

To learn more, contact Whalen at 520‐6999 or paulwhalen@elpasoco.com.

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