FRANKFORD, Del.- An area sports club is in quite a pickle. The First State Pickleball Club in Sussex County is on the hunt for a permanent indoor facility, but is having challenges finding one.
The game of pickleball may remind you a little of tennis, but the racquet sport is its own unique activity. More than 200 people are a part of the First State Pickleball Club. Butch Martin, president of the organization, said that number is growing.
"It's like an explosion," Martin said."People hear about it, hear all the excitement and people talking and want to come out to see what it's all about."
Most players are at least 60-years-old and play at least three times a week, according to a survey taken within the club. The group raised $8,000 to build the first dedicated pickleball court on Delmarva, according to Martin.
Cheryl Martin, who is secretary of the club, said using the outdoor facility every day is not always easy. When school is in session or the weather is cold, hot or bad, the court is no good.
"An indoor facility would allow people to play at any time," Martin said. "We don't have any true pickleball facilities in Sussex County."
In a situation like this, a Department of Parks and Recreation like ones in some other nearby counties, could help find a solution, but Sussex County does not have one. County Councilwoman Joan Deaver said the county does not have the department because it would increase property taxes.
Each year, council members are given $35,000 to award as grant money to people who apply for help.
"That was set up because we do not have a parks and recreation department, Deaver said.
Deaver said the county provides ample amount of financial support to more than a dozen senior centers across the county. According to documents, more than $100,000 has been awarded in funding during FY 2015. The Milton Cheer Center received the most in the form of a $30,000 grant.
Martin explains that club members have squeezed into gyms, auditoriums and centers across the area, but there is not enough space to accommodate more all of the players and least eight pickleball nets.
Some members of the club are hopeful that someone will donate a building or space for the sport.
Deaver said they can apply and be considered for a grant.
A dedication ceremony for the new court will be Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8:30 a.m. behind John Clayton Elementary School.