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Those are some really expensive tennis courts:

July 8, 2022
By Marcy Shortuse

County talks about upcoming project on Wheeler, drops the numbers and … WOW!

Pickles are usually small things. Pickleball is more or less a diminutive version of tennis, too. But when Lee County announced how much Boca Grande’s new public pickleball courts will cost, it was a very big price.

Last week Lee County Public Information Officer Betsy Clayton confirmed unequivocally that the new plans for the courts on Wheeler Road (that are closed at this time) include a combination of pickleball and tennis. 

When asked about the specific details of the plan she said the information was “not immediately at her fingertips.”

When asked about Lee County’s projected general funding budget of  $85,000 for fiscal year 2022-23 for the courts, and $850,000 for fiscal year 2023-24, Clayton confirmed that those funds are specifically allotted for the island’s public tennis/pickleball courts.

She had no additional information at the time, but we will keep checking in with the county.

The courts were installed on Wheeler Road in late 2006 – early 2007 when The Island School was built over the courts at the Boca Grande Community Center. They were paid for by an endowment from the Farish family. They are the only public tennis courts on the island.

In April of this year Lee County Parks & Recreation Director Jesse Lavender met with local residents Cheryl Schum, Paul Richards and Cam watts regarding the fate of the public tennis courts on Wheeler Road. At that time Lavender said no design plan had been created yet, but one of the residents who attended the meeting was in possession of a design allegedly created by Lee County that included the removal of a tennis court and the addition of pickleball courts. Since then no public meetings have been held.

 In April of 2016 Lee County Parks & Recreation put temporary lines on one of the tennis Courts at the Wheeler Street tennis court location, and proclaimed it open time for pickle ball on Monday’s, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 – 5 p.m.  At that time they said a second court would be laid out in the coming weeks, but no more mention was made by the county of a decision to create pickleball courts in lieu of tennis courts until recently.

The courts will be closed until October while renovations are completed.