When Jennifer Shotts and Michelle Hart arrived at Police Officers Memorial Park in Wading River early Monday afternoon to play tennis, they were pleasantly surprised at the court’s condition.
“It was such a nice surprise,” Ms. Shotts said.
The married couple moved to Wading River two years ago and have been playing tennis at the park two or three times a week since. On Monday, they got to experience the repaved courts after town officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the renovated tennis and basketball courts. A ribbon cutting was also done at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton where new pickleball courts were unveiled.
Members of the Riverhead Town Board, parks and recreation department and recreation advisory committee gathered for the ceremonial red-ribbon snips.
Ms. Hart said that compared to the cracked asphalt tennis courts she and Ms. Shotts were playing on last year, the new foundation is “remarkably different.”
The tennis courts were redone two years ago, but with an asphalt surface.
“It didn’t have [the] cushiness of what they just laid down, which is what you usually want,” Ms. Hart said. “It saves your knees, it helps on running and if you do fall, it’s not as harsh on your body.”
Ray Coyne, superintendent of Riverhead’s parks and recreation department, and Jason Randall of The LandTek Group worked together on the three separate courts, with construction beginning last fall. They said the only issues they encountered were weather delays in the winter and spring months. The new pickleball space is the most recent addition to Veterans Park and already popular with the community, with all three courts filled with players before the short ceremony began.
“Pickleball is all the rage right now,” said deputy supervisor Devon Higgins, who was representing the supervisor’s office. “It was really great that the board was able to come together and make that happen.”
According to Mr. Coyne, each of the new courts was paid for by parks and recreation and community benefit funds, and taxpayer money was not used to finance the projects. The tennis and basketball courts at Police Officers Memorial Park, while not brand-new, were significantly renovated. The basketball court in particular was in such poor condition it had to be temporarily closed last summer.
“We actually had to shut it down for a little bit because it was unplayable,” Mr. Coyne said. “We had our highway department come in and patch it so that got it going again, but then we got in there to demolish the whole thing.”
Ms. Shotts and Ms. Hart both said the tennis and basketball courts are often being used when they come to play, and the new courts are a “great investment in the community.” Between pickleball popularity and tennis regulars, there will be no shortage of players on the new courts for their summer debut.
“Out here, everything gets used,” Mr. Randall said. “And that’s what it’s there for.”