WHEATLAND – Many volunteers came out to help put up the poles and fencing for the two new pickleball courts that have been erected at Lewis Park. At this point, the wait time for the cement to cure is in process.
One of organizers of the new construction for the new outdoor pickleball courts is former Wheatland resident Jamie Schindler.
“We all started playing pickleball down here because of Coach Gallegos.” Schindler said. “He was the one that brought it to town. The group grew from two courts to three courts and pretty soon we had 80 people, all ages from 20 years old to 80-year-olds.”
The group tried to play outside during the summer at the park on the tennis courts, but the surface was not pickleball friendly and the vision promoted a challenge to establish some outdoor pickleball facilities.
“It was a dream at that point, and one day I was reading the Platte County Record-Times and in there was a story about a grant opportunity from AARP,” Schindler said. “It was called livables communities grant and they award it to all 50 states every year.”
When Schindler saw the article, the deadline for application had already passed so he conversed with the people on the town council and asked if it would be possible to apply for the grant the following year.
“They agreed to applying for the grant and also agreed to commit some money from Wyoming Community Gas,” Schindler said. “$10k was committed from WCG and we applied for the grant right before I moved out of town.”
Schindler, a former Wheatland resident has since relocated to Colorado.
“I told Candy (Wright) that if we got the grant that I would come back and help them because I didn’t want to leave them hanging,” Schindler said. “But anyway, we did get the grant and that grant was for $28K which is actually pretty significant.”
The AARP grant is usually for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-30K, but only award two or three in that $30K range according to Schindler.
“I attribute that amount we got to Candy Wright and her grant writing abilities,” Schindler said. “We gave her raw material and she put it all together and made it professional, so kudos goes to Candy for that.”
Schindler doesn’t know the total price tag for the new pickleball courts, but estimates that the figure will be somewhere around $50K. The additional monies will come from the city budget and from fundraisers such as the tournament that was held Saturday.
“We’ve got to be done by Nov. 10,” Schindler said. “I’ve got to have 28-day cure time on concrete so that is going to put me into early September to surface the courts and build a fence. That’s going to be done through volunteer labor with those in the pickleball league and some recent retirees from the power plant.”
There is nothing official about the pickleball group in Platte County, according to Schindler. It’s just a grassroots gang of pickleball enthusiasts who are excited about having fun and staying healthy.
An update to the ongoing story of the Wheatland Pickleball courts has been given by Gallegos who said that the sealant and paint are on backorder and delays due to COVID have moved the official “finished project” date to June 2022.
“People can still play here,” Gallegos said. “I installed a temporary net and we chalked the lines on the cement. We even have lights. All we ask is that people turn everything off and make sure they leave nothing behind after they are finished.”