Pickleball is coming to Bluffdale.
A hybrid of tennis, badminton and table tennis, pickleball is becoming increasingly popular around the country, especially at retirement communities for active seniors because the game's whiffle-like ball moves at a third the speed of a tennis ball.
Anticipating that its appeal will extend into Utah, Salt Lake County plans to construct at least eight pickleball courts at Southwest Regional Park in Bluffdale.
Funding for the pickleball courts comes from a $47 million bond that Salt Lake County voters approved by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin last November. The money will be used to develop four regional parks in underserved and fast-growing parts of the valley and to close gaps in trails running along the Jordan River and connecting the river trail to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
"We are moving forward with everything," Parks and Recreation Associate Director Emery Crook told the Salt Lake County Council last week in an update on what's been done with the parks' bond.
Here is a project-by-project breakdown:
Magna Regional Park, 4000 S. 2700 West • The first slice of the bond, $5.5 million, was spent in February to buy 62 acres from Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Of that, $400,000 will be used to begin preliminary designs for these lands, long used for solid rocket motor testing by ATK's predecessor, Hercules.
Lodestone Park, 6200 S. 6200 West • Project manager Angelo Calacino said preliminary designs are being completed after parks officials received input from 31 residents at an open hearing in May. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring on 47 acres that surround a 15-acre park that already has been developed at the site, which straddles the Kearns/West Valley City border.
While part of the park will be a flood-control detention basin, it also will feature a major playground and extensive playing fields, picnic pavilions, a perimeter path, a splash pad and courts for pickleball, bocce (Italian lawn bowling) and basketball, Calacino said.
Southwest Regional Park, 14000 S. 2700 West • Besides its pickleball courts, which are the size of a badminton court and involve hitting whiffle balls with large table-tennis racquets, preliminary plans for this 70-acre facility include a pedestrian path through a creek meadow, large multipurpose sports fields, open grassy areas, a splash pool and a rock feature, said project manager Morgan Selph.
Construction is expected to begin in the spring, with designs being finalized after an open house that attracted three dozen residents in May.
Wheadon Farm Park, 13800 S. Bangerter Parkway, in Draper • Almost 80 people turned out for the open house on this 64-acre parcel, which was a working farm in the Wheadon family until 1997.
That agriculture heritage will be preserved with continued farming on 11 acres, said project manager Selph. "The focus will be on trying to teach people about urban farming and its historic value," he said, noting that multi-use sports fields will be built adjacent to Bangerter Highway while the rest of the park will be less structured.
The county is still working with Draper to develop an access road to the property from Bangerter, he added.
Jordan River • All the easy areas have been done in building trails along the length of the river as it bisects the valley. The last five stretches of river are the toughest, Crook said, requiring time-consuming negotiations to acquire land and easements and to get approvals for crossings of railroad tracks.
Project manager Lynn Larsen has $11.5 million to work on the different segments. Most will be spent on the valley's far south end, but a key stretch of river trail that remains to be built is between North Temple and 200 South.
The county is in a waiting position, Larsen said, while Salt Lake City takes the lead in securing easements from Questar Gas, the Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway Co. and the state and a railroad crossing right of way from Union Pacific Railroad.
On the valley's south end, he said, the county is working closely with Utah Transit Authority, Rocky Mountain Power, the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and private property owners to resolve land-ownership and easement issues on scattered parcels from 14400 South to 16500 South.
Parleys Trail • Finishing this trail system may be even harder than wrapping up Jordan River work, said project manager Walt Gilmore.
Consider, for instance, the complicated terrain to traverse between the Jordan River and 300 West the spaghetti bowl of ramps where Interstates 80 and 15 intersect and a wide railroad yard.
The bond provided $9 million for this trail, a sum enhanced by UTA's lead role in developing the trail along its new streetcar line between State Street and 500 East and a $7 million contribution from Salt Lake City's Redevelopment Agency to complete the stretch along the rail line from 500 East to 1050 East.
Gilmore said trail work along the edge of Sugar House Park, from 1300 East to 1700 East, will be done in late September. "If you go up there now, a lot of dust is flying," he noted.
From 1700 East to Tanner Park, the trail will run along I-80's south side, a location that prompted County Council concerns about noise levels.
"My attitude is, it's an urban trail. â¦ It is what it is," Gilmore said, noting that once the trail is in place, things can be done to reduce the impact of passing freeway traffic.