Ottawa’s elected officials have set the ball rolling toward an even more playful city in 2018 — basketballs and pickleballs, to be exact.
At their regular meeting Wednesday, Ottawa city commissioners unanimously approved naming two of the new basketball courts in the Ottawa Teen Park — officially opened in early December 2017 at 202 W. 15th St. — for the 1971 and 2013 Ottawa High School state basketball championship teams. The commission also endorsed construction of six new pickleball courts, which are to be located on a former skate park at 613 E. Third St., Ottawa, east of the Don Woodward Community Center.
Both efforts were brought before the commission by Wynndee Lee, the city’s community development director, and originated in the Ottawa Play Taskforce, a community organization with the goal to “improve the health and welfare of the community through play,” according to its website http://play.ottawaks.gov/
Sara Caylor, Ottawa city mayor, suggested naming the basketball courts in honor of the OHS championship teams and, “was excited to see that result in the naming of two courts in the Teen Park,” according to a city news release.
“It is very appropriate to show today’s youth what youth in the past have accomplished and encourage their efforts to better their skills while having fun,” Caylor said.
According to the release, fundraising is ongoing to add more basketball courts in the community: one in Freedom Park, 250 S. Poplar St., and a half court in Walton Park, located on the south side of Walton Street between South Burroughs and Cherry streets.
“Basketball can be one person shooting for fun or a sports competition, but having additional courts and goals around the community is a goal we are committed to meeting,” said Fonda Rose, Play Task Force chairperson.
The pickleball courts are slated for installation in Spring 2018, and were made possible through a $6,000 donation from the family of the late Ed Taylor, former Franklin County commissioner and avid pickballer. Ottawa commissioners accepted the Ottawa Play Taskforce’s recommendation to name the courts in Taylor’s honor.
“I was so very excited to enable outdoor pickleball in my dear husband’s honor,” Shirlene Taylor said in the release. “He loved playing, and this was just the thing to honor his memory and public service.”
The location’s history lends itself to the construction of pickleball courts, according to the release.
“Originally, the area was tennis courts, making the surface good for pickleball, too,” city officials said in the release. “Pickleball is a paddle sport that can be played with two to four players using solid paddles (similar to ping-pong paddles) and a perforated plastic ball (similar to Wiffle ball) over a net. The proposal approved would be to install six courts, four bleachers and signage. The signage will recognize Taylor’s years of service.”
Caylor paid tribute to Taylor’s service to the community as well as that of his family.
“This generous gift carries the name of a generous person and my friend, Ed Taylor,” she said. “I am excited to have a new amenity in the Woodward Center neighborhood.”
It is anticipated the courts’ signage will be placed to designate naming gifts in addition to Taylor’s, the release said. Those interested in knowing more about projects planned, how to make a donation or how to be involved are encouraged to contact Wynndee Lee at (785) 229-3620 or visit http://play.ottawaks.gov
OTHER MEETING TAKEAWAYS
• Commissioners voted to condemn a mobile home structure located at 820 S. Lincoln St.
Commissioner Mike Skidmore abstained from voting due to a business relationship to the landowner.
• Commissioners voted unanimously to annex land at 426 and 436 S. Beech St., and 241 N. Cherry St.
• Commissioners unanimously approved a funding agreement with Prairie Paws Animal Shelter for 2018 in the amount of $52,026.