(Jan. 3, 2020) Notwithstanding a year marked by meeting cancellations, the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Committee managed to pull out quite a few feats in 2019, and has high hopes for an even better 2020.
“I’m very pleased with the support and guidance shared with us by the members of the Recreation and Parks Committee,” Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito said. “The members’ keen political perspectives have helped us navigate through various issues and have afforded us the opportunity to move forward with several key projects for recreation and parks, and all the new private event requests run through Special Events this year.”
Despite only meeting four times in 2019, the committee helped several Recreation and Parks Department projects.
One of the biggest projects the committee helped guide this year was the renovation of Gorman Park to include a pickleball court.
“The Gorman Park renovation project … included drainage improvements, the addition of a pickleball court, replacement of the racquetball court, the resurfacing of the tennis court and the addition of pickleball lines to provide a multi-use space,” Petito said.
Pickleball is a mélange of badminton, tennis and other racquet sports, and was created by three dads back in 1965.
According to a 2018 Sports and Fitness Industry report, pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, with roughly 3.1 million players and 20,933 courts.
The Gorman Park project had been three years in the making, and got its start in 2016 when a Salisbury University “Vision Study” reported high interest in the sport.
The resort saw explosive growth in pickleball participation over the next two years, from 2,905 in 2016 to 7,200 in 2018, Petito said.
The new court was opened on July 10, and was immediately put to use by local players.
Another project the committee supported was the city’s investment in the renovation of the “Large Dog” portion of the dog playground at Little Salisbury Park.
This involved work such as reshaping the usable space, as well as adding sod and new fencing, Petito said.
The committee’s major goals for next year are to revisit designs for a parks master plan, and discussing how to address recreational needs in downtown Ocean City.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our discussions on how we can improve the recreational opportunities in the downtown area, address the department’s aging infrastructure, including that of Eagle’s Landing and work cooperatively to continue supporting the town’s vision and goals,” Petito said.