PicklePlex project clearing hurdles

Deb Hatch, left, and Lynette McCoy play the net during a game of pickleball at the Wellness Center.

Avid pickleball players are one step closer to having a state-of-the-art facility following an update shared during the Tellico Village Property Owners Association meeting June 16.

Clayton Taylor, assistant director of public works, said the POA and Timeless Tellico Foundation are close to putting together a bid packet for construction on phase one that should begin soon.

“(Jim) Hawkey and I have been working together with the Recreation Advisory Committee and Timeless Tellico (Foundation) and Simon (Bradbury), along with Michael Versen and Versen and Associates and at this time we’ve got a few technical details to work out and some documentation to work out,” Taylor said. “Everything’s moving along really well and we’re really pleased with how well it’s moving along. I know everybody would like it to be further, but I think we’re moving in a good direction.”

Some of the details Taylor would like worked out include wording in the bid packets and changes in plans for fencing, drainage and footers around the site where the courts will be located.

“Mr. Hawkey will review that with me and we’ll look over that with Versen and get a few more details worked out, and then we feel like we’re ready to go out with a bid packet to get bids on this project,” Taylor said. “We’d like to get that done before the end of the month and I’ll say within the next two weeks. We have some contracting and some stuff like that, and then there’s some things we’ve got to get changed on the plans that we’ve submitted to Versen about some details about fencing, curtains, drainage and those details. He’s just got to get everything put down on the drawings and submit them back to us to where we can review them and approve them, and we feel good about that.”

The PicklePlex project will be completed in two major phases, with phase one the installation of the four new courts and fencing. Phase two will include installation of an overhead roof, which will allow residents to play pickleball in almost any kind of weather.

Members of the POA, TTF and Tellico Village Pickleball Club introduced the project in September with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and check presentation at the Wellness Center. TVPC donated $15,000 to kickstart the effort.

Simon Bradbury, TTF chairman and POA recreation director, helped spearhead the project last year with the help of donations. The project is estimated to cost $350,000.

This is the first major project for the TTF since its inception in December 2019.

“One of the things you have to understand is that this is a Timeless Tellico project, which it is entirely funded through phase one and phase two by donations from people here in the Village,” Rick Blough, POA president, said. “There is no expenditure of POA money that will be made for these courts.”

There are eight uncovered pickleball courts at the Wellness Center. The new PicklePlex will allow for more availability and could attract more residents to the area.

“I think it’s a huge addition for marketing because pickleball is the fastest-growing sport, particularly in this age group, and people are looking for that,” Bradbury said. “People are looking for where they can play year round and not worry about weather, and that part’s going to be huge. It’s a big deal, too, for the Timeless Tellico Foundation to put together this project and make this project happen and demonstrate what we’re capable of doing. This is going to be a $350,000 project, but this is small in comparison to what we can accomplish.”