As the city of Northport continues slow progress on its three major recreational projects, a smaller job is getting underway to bring three new pickleball courts to an underutilized site near the river.

In a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama's Public Affairs Council at Northport City Hall Wednesday, city leaders said they eventually want to see a whole slew of pickleball and tennis courts built at the Sports Complex they are planning between Kentuck Park and the Black Warrior River.

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Those courts are years away from development, though -- Phase 1 of the sports complex is all about building out nine new tournament-ready baseball and softball fields, work that is expected to last until at least May 2025.

In the meantime, there are area hobbyists eager to play pickleball here in West Alabama.

The paddle sport is reportedly exploding in popularity, especially among older adults, and city engineer Tera Tubbs said the city wants to capitalize as quickly as possible to accommodate players looking for a place to play.

"We have 24 pickleball courts in our master plan, but we also know those are a couple of years out," Tubbs said. "We have a very active pickleball association who have been reaching out to us asking us to please do something in the meantime."

So the city will build three courts they aim to have operational before the end of this year, on a site they already own.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

The space for the new courts currently houses a rather dilapidated and overgrown metal building owned by the city on Oliver Dam Road, across the street from their wastewater treatment plant.

(Google Street View)
(Google Street View)

"We have gone through and there's a nice slab underneath that building that is in great condition," Tubbs said. "So we have actually let a contract and are going to convert that slab into three pickleball courts."

Tubbs said the contractor responsible for the project has been given notice to proceed, and they estimated the work will take 45 days.

"They should be starting soon, and in November this should be ready for play," Tubbs said.

Combined with the existing nearby levee trail, the Kentuck Park sports complex and another, smaller recreation project getting underway soon in Northport, that area around 5th Street, 30th Avenue and the Oliver Lock & Dam is set to soon be a nearly unrecognizable hub for local recreation.

For the details on these and other developments from north of the Black Warrior, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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