Pickleball courts going in at Knox Park, formerly a section of the skate park

Skate park also getting $40,000 in needed repairs

There is a demand from residents for more pickleball courts, and the former wood rail section of the Knox Park skate park is perfect for that, parks and recreation Director Bill Hobson told the McHenry City Council recently.

At the same time, the skate park’s existing concrete bowl, which opened in 2001, needs repairs, Hobson said.

The council on July 1 unanimously approved spending $40,000 in park developer donations to repair the skate park at 330 Knox Drive and another $35,000 to install six new pickleball courts.

During the summer, “it is pretty busy,” Hobson said, adding that “there are probably a dozen” at any given time using the skate park, which sits between Route 31 and Green Street on McHenry’s south side.

“It is a well-used amenity, for sure,” he said.

It also is one of the more well-used skate parks in the area, as it has lighting that was donated after the initial construction for night skating, Hobson said.

The amenity is showing its age, however, with cracks and holes forming in the concrete, standing water that is not draining and excessive patching done over the years, according to Hobson’s report to the council.

The City Council waived competitive bidding and awarded the work to American Ramp Co.

“This is not work that can be completed by a nonspecialized concrete company,” according to Hobson’s report to the City Council.

Plans are to start the repairs after school has resumed in the fall “to minimize the impact on its usage this summer,” according to the report.

What the plan does not do is restore another section of the skate park.

When it was built in 2001, the park included a 100-by-100-foot area of wooden rails, ramps and other amenities for skateboarders to practice tricks. That area was removed in the early 2010s.

In 2017, volunteers built a “Safetytown” village on the concrete pad, part of a national initiative to teach safety to young children. A few months later, residents and skaters petitioned McHenry to restore the wooden section.

Instead, that area will be pickleball courts, which likely will in place before the end of the summer.

McHenry currently has four pickleball courts, Hobson said.

“At Knox Park, we took one tennis court out of play ... and were able to put in two pickleball courts,” he said, adding that residents are asking for more.

The 2024-25 budget included $25,000 for improvements to that portion of the skate park, Hobson said. Another $10,000 in park developer fees also was needed to paint the courts, place posts and nets, and put fencing between courts to prevent balls from going into a neighboring game.

McHenry now has four tennis courts and, once completed, will have 10 pickleball courts, Hobson said.

And he told 2nd Ward Alderman Andy Glab that if tennis again becomes popular, the courts repurposed for pickleball could be converted back.

“I want us to be able to use the facilities for something else if need be,” Glab said.

“If the trend shifted and tennis took off, there would be three tennis ball courts instead of six pickleball courts” at Knox, Hobson said.

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