Ruby Berghoff and Mayor David Goins cut the ribbon, held by Parks and Recreation Director Michael Haynes and Deputy Director Lyndsey Younger.ALTON - The Gordon Moore Park pickleball courts are officially open for play.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, May 3, 2024, Mayor David Goins and Parks and Recreation Director Michael Haynes announced that the courts are ready to go. The courts are fenced off with electricity available. The City plans to install benches, picnic tables and signage sometime in the next few months.

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“We’re really excited about it, and as of today, they are game-ready,” Haynes said. “Everybody else started getting courts around us and things developed and we did finally find a way to have our own courts, which, I might say, are pretty beautiful and among the best in the area.”

Haynes estimated that it has taken five years since he first heard about pickleball to get the courts open at Gordon Moore. In the meantime, people played pickleball on the tennis courts at the park, which Haynes said was “not ideal.” Construction on the pickleball courts was completed last fall and surfacing was finished in the last few weeks.

Goins thanked Haynes and the City for their work to make this possible, and he noted that it takes patience to make things happen at the city level. He acknowledged the “squeaky wheels” who advocated for the pickleball courts.

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“One thing that I’ve found out being in this office is when people want things, it requires a level of patience. And sometimes your patience gets tested because you kind of want things to be done right away,” Goins added. “Just in city government and things like that, I’ve come to find out it just doesn't happen. But when it happens, look at what we have.”

Ruby Berghoff, U.S.A. Pickleball Ambassador for Madison County, joked that she was one of the squeaky wheels because patience is not one of her virtues. She said she didn’t know anybody when she moved back to the Riverbend region a few years ago, but now she has “like 200 friends” through pickleball. She thanked Haynes, the City and Alton Township for their help.

Berghoff also shared that 90% of people who have heart attacks outside of a medical facility will not survive, and she told the story of a local man who recently had a heart attack while playing pickleball and survived only because there was an AED nearby. Berghoff said the pickleball community was raising money to install an AED in the Gordon Moore Park courts. Mary Bohart, supervisor of Alton Township, announced that the organization would donate $3,000 to this cause.

Goins added that he hopes Alton can one day have a large indoor recreation facility like Wood River’s new rec center. He congratulated the pickleball players on their new courts and invited them to play an inaugural game, which he promised to watch but joked he would not be participating in.

“It’s a dream, but I don’t think anything’s impossible. It just takes hard work. Once again, it takes patience and it takes diligence,” Goins said. “But we’re happy to finally be able for you all to have your own pickleball courts. I know you will enjoy them. I will enjoy coming out and watching you play, not playing.”

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