CORTLAND - A former ice rink area at Willow Park has been transformed into state-of-the-art pickleball courts with a local league established.
Cortland residents Dave Majick and Jerry Carleton said the courts previously were designed to be an ice skating rink and skating area.
"The ice rink idea was abandoned years ago,'' Majick said.
Carleton said the ice rink had to deal with drainage issues which would often leave only 2 inches of ice at the rink.
Majick said the area sat for a few years, and then discussions were held to turn the area into four pickleball courts, which were put in five years ago.
Carleton has played pickleball in Florida and brought the sport to Kent State University at Trumbull when he was a physical education teacher there.
Pickleball uses a wiffle ball and wooden paddles. The game developed in Washington state.
"I picked up the idea at a national convention in Kansas City. It's now played everywhere,'' he said.
To help with recent enhancements of the courts, the Cortand Rotary Club donated $1,600 for the court poles and the city donated $8,000 for the resurfacing of the courts.
Majick said this is the first year the courts have a new playing surface compared to the prior surface being asphalt.
''With the help of the city and the Rotary, we were able to upgrade the courts. This is one of the best pickleball courts in the area," Majick said.
"This is a unique situation where we took a facility and turned it into a perfect pickleball area. The courts have the depth. It is a good set up,'' he said.
He said the Cortland Area Pickleball Association has 40 members playing at 9 a.m. Monday to Friday and at 5 p.m. seven days a week. Team members are from New Castle, Pa., Warren and other areas.
"We get many people who camp at the lake who will come here and play," Majick said, calling it one of the fastest-growing sports in the community. Plans are for a 2015 tournament to be held at Cortland's site.