Cedar City Council to vote on building new pickleball courts with RAP tax funds

The Cedar City Council has five candidates vying for two open seats in the upcoming election, Cedar City, Utah, July 14, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News /Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Council considered how to allocate money Wednesday night, and pickleball players in the community have a lot to look forward to.

The Cedar City Council will vote on building pickleball courts, like these in a Hurricane file photo, at its action meeting July 14 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

The council heard presentations about how Recreation and Parks tax money will be budgeted for the next year. RAP tax money is a percentage of sales tax that is collected and used for local nonprofits and recreational entities.

A RAP tax advisory board, consisting of volunteers from the community, collects requests for the funds and then makes a recommendation to the council, which then votes on the official disbursement of RAP money.

According to paperwork in the council’s packet for the meeting, this year’s RAP tax budget has $257,885 allocated for Arts expenditures and $515,770 slated for Recreation and Parks.

The Recreation and Parks recommended expenditures are $2,000 to the Trap Club, $203,000 to the Rotary Club to upgrade the water park in West Canyon and $310,770 to the city’s Department of Leisure Services, the bulk of which will be used for new pickleball courts.

Pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in America, has long been a favorite recreational activity in Cedar City but there have never been courts specifically designated for the public. Enthusiasts have played on the tennis courts at Southern Utah University or various other outdoor tennis courts and indoor basketball courts.

“We’ve talked about it for several years,” Cedar City Director of Leisure Services Kenny Nielson told Cedar City News. “We just haven’t found a spot that was right until we found this piece of property. We think this is a perfect spot for it.”

The proposed courts will be built on 100 North, across the street from Main Street Park just north of the Elks Lodge.

Blind Date Doubles Pickleball Tournament, St. George, Utah, Feb. 15, 2014 | File photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

During the public hearing last Wednesday night to discuss the issue, at least a dozen citizens spoke in support of building the pickleball courts.

Nielson was asked if he was surprised pickleball players had such a large and vocal contingent. “Not really, no. I was surprised to see so many people at a city council meeting, but we knew that there’s great interest in pickleball in Cedar City.” 

Cedar City resident Ed Severance, who is a USA Pickleball ambassador, told the council that an estimated 4.2 million people in the country play pickleball. There are approximately 1,700 professional pickleball players that earn anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 per year.

The sport, which is often described as ping pong on a tennis court, is played by teams of two players using paddles to hit a Wiffle ball over a net. The sound of the ball striking the paddle makes a distinctive, satisfying smack.

Eight courts will be built, according to the proposal, and they will be lit with lights repurposed from the ice rink. The facility will be able to host tournaments and fundraisers.

Advocates spoke of how family-friendly the game is, how players of any age or ability level can enjoy it and how it fosters community service.

As last Wednesday’s meeting was a work meeting, the council will bring up the matter officially in the action meeting July 14. 

Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards was excited about the project.

“Now hopefully the council has a better vision of this project, the passion, and what can happen with this property in the future,” 

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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