AGAWAM — A new project would add pickleball courts, a new pavilion, and an handicap-accessible paved walkway to Borgatti Field, on River Road between Lawnwood Street and Chestnut Lane.

Parks and Recreation Director Christopher Sparks said the project would add two new pickleball courts to the park directly next to the existing ones. The park already has four pickleball courts, bringing the total amount after this project to six. It will also reseal and repaint the existing courts.

“I think players will be pleased to see the addition of the two courts,” said town Procurement Officer Jennifer Bonfiglio in early November. “The courts are extremely busy. I understand Mayor Sapelli has had some individuals reach out to him and ask if they could expand the courts.”

She went on to say, “He brought that forward to the Park and Rec director and the Community Preservation Act Committee to explore if it was a possibility. After consulting with the designer, we determined there was space and began the design.”

Sparks said during busy days, the courts are full and people wait on the sidelines to get a chance at playing. They are seeing people play in the afternoons, evenings and weekends.

“The demand for the sport has warranted additional courts,” he said. “Our crowds down there are getting larger and the number of people playing pickleball is growing.”

Pickleball is a low-impact racket sport combining elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. It can be played singles or doubles using paddles and a plastic ball. Recent years have seen its popularity grow across the country, especially among retirees.

Surrounding municipalities are constructing more pickleball courts of their own. Work began in November to convert three tennis courts at Westfield’s Municipal Playground into eight pickleball courts. In December, Southwick Town Meeting approved building six pickleball courts at two town parks.

The Borgatti Field project also involves building a concrete pad, a 26- by 30-foot pavilion to provide shade to players as they’re waiting, and a walkway that will connect the pavilion with all of the courts and also connect down to the existing softball field bleachers. The asphalt walkway is designed to be accessible for people who have trouble walking or use wheelchairs.

The total cost of the project is $297,175. It will be paid for with $247,175 in Community Preservation funds and $50,000 from the Parks and Recreation gift account.

Town public works crews will excavate and prepare the area themselves, which will save the town approximately $30,000. The town has bid out the remaining work, to the lowest-bidding contractor Taylor Davis Landscape, of Amherst, which includes installation of the new pickleball courts, paving and painting all of the courts, and adding new fencing and accessible sidewalks. The contractor will also install the new, larger pavilion.

The Agawam City Council approved $30,000 in Community Preservation Act funds in July for the design of the two additional pickleball courts. The City Council also approved a resolution appropriating Community Preservation funds for the project at their Dec. 18 meeting. The Community Preservation Committee had previously given the council a positive recommendation for the resolution. Now that the council has approved the funding, work may begin in either the winter or the spring.

Sparks said there will be days when access to the courts are restricted or forbidden outright. This is in order to protect the safety of the players.

When construction will end depends on when it starts.

“The weather’s been favorable to allow for some construction over the winter,” Bonfiglio said. “Hopefully it stays that way.”

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Miasha Lee
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