ENGLEWOOD — More than 60 people, overwhelmingly pickleball and tennis enthusiasts, had a chance to see Thursday what new amenities Sarasota County plans in the Englewood area.

Sarasota County Parks staff learned Englewood tennis and pickleballers are chafing a bit over the use of the existing courts.

The county will be building eight more lighted, outdoor pickleball courts at the Sports Complex, bringing the number of courts at the complex to 20 outdoor and six indoor courts. The additional pickleball courts will allow the park to host small to mid-sized tournaments.

County parks, recreation and natural resources director Nicole Rissler explained how, a year ago, county commissioners gave parks staff marching orders to provide more courts for pickleballers throughout the county.

Additionally, new LED lighting will be provided to the two unlit youth soccer fields at the Sports Complex. The new lighting is designed to illuminate just the fields or courts and not to spill over into surrounding neighborhoods.

The county is collecting public input and suggestions that will then be presented to the county’s parks advisory board before going before county commissioners. Anyone who didn’t attend the meeting Thursday but still wishes to offer input or for more information, email parksonline@scgov.net or call 941-861-5000.

“Feel free to comment online,” Rissler encouraged the audience.

County parks staff learned Thursday that there’s some consternation over scheduling use of the courts.

“Tennis being monopolized in a.m., 7:30-10 a.m.” county staff noted among the comments they collected. “Open play tennis is not occurring as open play.”

Tennis player Phil Briscoe appreciates the need for more courts for the growing sport of pickleball, but he didn’t think tennis should be sacrificed or limited to accommodate pickleball.

Tennis, Briscoe said, is still popular among older adults like himself, citing how he belongs to a league of 20 or more members who play regularly.

The county maintains four outdoor tennis courts at the Sports Complex wedged beside the 12 existing pickleball courts and the eight planned pickleball courts.

AKA ‘Englewood Rec Center’

What has been for decades known as the Englewood Recreation Center at Orange Avenue, the county renamed “Englewood Park.”

Sarasota County parks and rec actually leases the property from the school board. The building that had once served as Englewood’s rec center, Rissler said, will become office space for the school system. She also suggested the Sports Complex having its own indoor recreation center.

The rest of the park is getting a complete face lift.

The existing ball field will be plowed under and kept as a large grassy, open space that can be utilized to stage events and other activities. The county will add two new tennis courts, sidewalks, new fencing and restrooms for the park.

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