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Because… Pickleball!

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2019

* Tribune

Pickleball courts, dog parks and grants for an arts program led by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s wife are on a lengthy list of lawmakers’ pet projects paid for by a massive gambling expansion and tax hikes on smoking and parking.

The pork barrel bonanza comes courtesy of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45 billion construction program that lawmakers approved as the spring legislative session spilled into overtime last weekend. It’s a signature away from becoming law. […]

Standing to benefit is pickleball, a fledgling sport that’s part tennis, part badminton and part pingpong. Democratic Sen. Terry Link of Vernon Hills tucked in $100,000 for the Buffalo Grove Park District for pickleball courts and other renovations.

The Park District plans to seal coat eight new courts at Mike Rylko Community Park because the paddle sport has “really taken off,” said Ryan Risinger, the district’s executive director. The new courts would replace rarely used sand volleyball courts, he said.

There’s also $20,000 for pickleball courts at Gwendolyn Brooks Park in Chicago’s North Kenwood neighborhood. Freshman Democratic Sen. Robert Peters said the court provides “first touches” for people in his district, saying he made choices based on local experts and community leaders who saw the need to upgrade broken and rusted equipment.

“I hope people understand why kids feel like they can’t even be in their own neighborhoods right now — if the park isn’t even safe in its structure,” Peters said. “Growing up on the South Side, the park was where I would go when I couldn’t go home. It’s its own shelter in a time of need.”

The $120,000 total listed above is 0.00027% (two-point-seven ten-thousandths of one percent) of the new infrastructure bill. And even that microcosmic percentage is way too high because the Buffalo Grove Park District appropriation isn’t solely for pickleball

The sum of $100,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the Build Illinois Bond Fund to the Buffalo Grove Park District for costs associated with the arts center renovations, pool repairs, ADA compliant ball field construction, playground renovation, and a pickleball court.

Build Illinois is from the George Ryan Jim Thompson era, by the way.

* State capital bills routinely help fund local park projects. But, hey, cherry-picking an odd-sounding newish “sport” can be a useful tool to persuade the masses that the rest of their tax dollars are being misspent. Hey, they could very well be right, but a little context might be in order. Here’s the Tribune editorial board to close

Illinois taxpayers deserve more accountability from their elected leaders. This bill should have been downsized significantly. It wasn’t.

Anyone for pickleball?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    Hmmm. Given the Trib’s hatred of pickleball, I think we might have a suspect in connection with this crime.

  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    I don’t know what pickle ball is but if if keeps people from getting clogged arteries and dementia, it probably saves money for Medicaid. Same with dog walking and bike paths.

  3. - Fax Machine - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:27 pm:

    Taxing vices like gambling and smoking to pay for parks and community centers sounds like a good deal to me

  4. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:27 pm:

    Will you be able to gamble on pickleball?

  5. - Fax Machine - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    Why is there a Mike Rylko Park but no Mike Royko Park?

  6. - Moby - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    == an odd-sounding newish “sport” ==

    We played pickleball in HS PE 30 years ago.

  7. - Northsider - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Is it just me, or is the Tribune Editorial Board’s sniping increasing in direct proportion to how often it’s being ignored?

  8. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:38 pm:

    Don’t forget the $3 million Decatur lazy river.

  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Thanks to a family member I know a lot about pickleball. If you need more information about pickleball I have a guy you can talk to.

    Suffice to say if the Trib decides to go after pickelball they are going to have to answer to a bunch of angry baby-boomers.

  10. - Montrose - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    I can only imagine their glee when they were scanning the capital bill, going past money for bridges, roads, schools, affordable housing, and the other core uses of the money, and came across the word “pickleball.”

  11. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    Pickleball has deep Spfld roots. Seriously. Had a big tournament not long Ago.

  12. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    It’s a “thang” in Clinton, IL. So much so, that in 2016 new courts were put in Rotary Park….

  13. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    It may not be much compared to statewide infrastructure spending; but is sure could be spent more wisely. Buffalo Grove Park District is not hurting - end of FY 2016 they had a $7,866,393 fund balance (source IL comptroller ). Totally unnecessary pork barrel spending .

  14. - qer7805n - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:58 pm:

    Among the senior active set, who vote in high numbers and have money to donate, pickle ball is huge. It has been added to various senior games types tournaments and has an avid following. Another example of our local newspaper being out of touch.

  15. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    Trib’s gonna Trib. It’s what Dold wants and it’s damned annoying and largely irrelevant.

  16. - Doing Human Things - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    “fledgling sport”?

    I was playing pickleball in grade school 30 years ago in west-central Illinois and took a pickleball class (part of the physical education department) in college in 2001. Not as part of a class…it was it’s own class…PE 145, Pickleball.

  17. - ZC - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    This is so strange. The population is aging, we want to encourage healthy living and exercise and this is taking off among the senior set , so what’s the deal? And is the Trib really targeting those weird senior citizens and their newfangled traditions?

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    ===I was playing pickleball in grade school 30 years ago===

    I honestly had never heard of it until I saw it on one of those house hunter shows.

  19. - lakeside - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    Using infrastructure spending for infrastructure in our parks. You hate to see it, but here we are.

  20. - Some annon dude - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    Illinois FIRST was Ryan. Not Build. But it piggybacked on it

  21. - Jose Abreu's Next Homerun - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    We played pickleball at St Francis in Wheaton back in the 90s. Loved it. Hope they’re still playing it in PE and intramurals.

  22. - Montrose - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    Based on the Pickleball enthusiasm displayed in this thread, I’m beginning to get upset that there isn’t more Pickleball money in the capital bill.

  23. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    @Citi zen: So spending money to build something that creates jobs and improves an economically depressed area is a bad thing?

  24. - njt - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    Illinois population: 12.7 million

    Trib project costs: 120K

    Taxes per month per resident for 1 year to fund project: .00078 cents

    Fake outrage: Priceless

  25. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    =We played pickleball in HS PE 30 years ago.=

    We played pickleball in PE at Lyons Township High School back in 1983. 36 years ago.

    It has become a fad in the last 5 years.

  26. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    @njt - Capital Bill Cost - $45 billion. Cost per resident - $3,500. That’s how people will look at it.

  27. - Stones - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    I play pickleball regularly. Don’t rip it unless you try it. It’s sort of like tennis for old people like me.

  28. - Colin O'Scopy - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    If a state rep or state senator wants to ask for a pickleball court as part of their allotment from the capital bill instead of a new sewer system or paved streets in their district, that’s on them and they are accountable to their constituents.

    But I seriously doubt that anything would have satisfied the Trib editorial board. No capital bill? Editorials deriding the legislature for crumbling infrastructure. Pass a capital bill? Nitpick it until the cows come home. Unless, that is, those cows like to play pickleball.

  29. - revvedup - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 4:01 pm:

    “It’s the APBAA. The American Pickleball Association…of America!!” Combining the speed of tennis, the ‘doink!’ of badminton, and the violence of ping-pong…wait, what?
    I never heard of it, although I loved high-wind badminton, hitting it so hard it stuck in the racket strings, or it sailed 40-50 feet.

  30. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 4:05 pm:

  31. - PMS - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    still have my DCCA Build Illinois lapel pin. Abe with one foot on a log that progresses into a steel beam.

  32. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 4:33 pm:

    is there a list by Rep. district? cause it seems some of them have nothing.

  33. - A guy - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 4:41 pm:

    ==it seems some of them have nothing.==

    This was likely unexpected enough that they hadn’t culled lists yet. 10 years ago, they were carrying the lists around with them.

  34. - PrairieDog - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 5:31 pm:

    Just because one example is “cherry picked” doesn’t guarantee all the rest is being spent wisely. I get the impression some would prefer no questions be asked about spending…

  35. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 5:37 pm:

    @PrairieDog - Agreed. For all of the Trib’s faults, it’s still important to have journalists keeping check on what the government is doing.

  36. - Albatros - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 5:38 pm:

    Do you wonder why the taxpayers are turning sour on the proposed income tax? These capital programs always degenerate into wasteful pork. When I was on the inside of the old “Build Illinois” program, staff termed it “Bill Illinois”
    Heck, public funds were used to have parking lots at churches of all things. To get the people behind him Pritzker will need to clean up the legislature. Good luck with that.

  37. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 6:14 pm:

    If the Tribune wanted to speak up about church parking lots why didn’t they mention church parking lots? They talk about athletic facilities for all as if those things are frivolous. Art and athletics are necessary.

  38. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 6:40 pm:

    ==This bill should have been downsized significantly.==

    And they use pickleball as their argument for that? Great intellectuals up there at the Tribune.

    Never mind that the state hasn’t had a significant capital bill in years and that the state’s infrastructure is in horrible shape. But by all means stomp your feet and hold your breath. Whining is what the Tribune does best.

  39. - njt - Tuesday, Jun 11, 19 @ 6:58 pm:

    ===Cost per resident - $3,500.===

    If people only want to focus on the negatives and disregard the investment of a capital bill that’s up to them.

  40. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Jun 12, 19 @ 9:15 am:

    We too had pickleball as part of high school PE back in the 90s.

  41. - BMC - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    Speaking of Buffalo Grove Park District why are there two identical measures in the capital bill. Drafting errors?

    Section 1465. The sum of $87,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the Build Illinois Bond Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a costs associated with grant to the Buffalo Grove Park District for costs associated with infrastructure improvements for the Community Arts Center.

    Section 1600. The sum of $87,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the Build Illinois Bond Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a grant to Buffalo Grove Park District for costs associated with the renovation of the Buffalo Grove Park District Community Arts Center.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
* 1,622 new cases, 86 additional deaths
* *** UPDATED x1 *** What in the heck is going on in Rockford?
* COVID-19 roundup
* All metro areas reporting record high unemployment rates
* School seclusion and restraint bill derailed after opposition
* Attorney DeVore asks appellate court to dissolve another TRO
* Question of the day
* Madigan issues new guidance to members, staff
* Architects abandon alternative reopening plan
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* House of worship attendance limit expected to be removed from stay at home order
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Sheriffs file suit against state for refusing to accept jail transfers
* Pritzker says IDPH has offered "suggestions" to churches - Says he's received "pushback" from some private nursing homes - IDPH will file new rule on nursing homes - Still looking at what to do about IDPH rule - Dodges question about Willie Wilson - Employers should use "common decency" when bring workers back - Will wait on feds before making any more budget decisions - Central Illinois hospitalization numbers improve - "We might potentially have to move backwards in the phases - "Not our intention" to make changes to Phase 4 guidance - No plans to dine at restaurant this weekend - No decision about ending daily briefing - Repeats that he has never encouraged police enforcement - Suggests GOP demand for IDES audit could be a "political move" - Still pondering school reopening - All testing is free - Asked about dangers of Legionella in large buildings - Testing and tracing metrics are "internal goals" - Points to federal rules on unemployment and workers who refuse to return - "Difficult for us to open theaters in the near future" - Dr. Ezike talks rules for malls - Dr. Ezike monitoring outbreak at county jail with ICE detainees
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