SUMMERVILLE — Town council accepted a private $100,000 donation to convert two tennis courts at Laurel Street Park into four pickleball courts.
Bill Nisson, a new Summerville resident, is the man behind the donation. Previously identified only as an anonymous donor, Nisson spoke at an Oct. 13 town council meeting, stating he donated the funds and expressing his goal for Summerville to fund at least four pickleball courts.
“(Pickleball) brings people a lot closer together. It’s not quite as hard to play as tennis, not quite as physically demanding,” Nisson said at the meeting. “For Summerville, it seems like it would fit the town a little bit better.”
There are two pickleball courts at Doty Park.
Pickleball has been rising in popularity. But the donation offer became the focal point of a council meeting in August, sparking debate between tennis and pickleball players over who is more deserving of having courts at Summerville’s parks in Summerville.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the consideration of that gift kind of devolved into what I think is a false choice between pickleball and tennis,” Councilman Bill McIntosh said.
The council accepted the donation Nov. 10, but only on the condition that its parks and recreation department come forward with a proposal of where and how to replace the tennis courts with two new ones at an alternate site, whether at Doty Park, Azalea Park or somewhere else — which was an amendment made by McIntosh.
McIntosh said he didn’t want to see Summerville lose two tennis courts. He suggested the council find money in the budget this year or next to pay for the new courts.
McIntosh said Nisson coming to the council with a proposed gift to the town quickly got their attention.
“We don’t have folks coming to us on a regular basis, offering to make contributions to the town at all, much less to the tune of six figures,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh admitted while he understood there was a demand to add more pickleball courts, some Summerville residents — including himself — were initially hesitant to give in.
“I think the concern was that maybe this is a fad, and maybe this will die out,” McIntosh said. “But there is absolutely no question that there is present demand to expand pickleball in downtown Summerville.”
Amy Evans, parks and recreation director, said there is no timeline yet for replacing the tennis courts, as the final design for the pickleball courts is still being determined. She told The Post and Courier that she thinks the addition of pickleball courts is ultimately a good thing, as numerous players already frequent the few courts Summerville has.
“If the sun is shining, you can find people on the pickleball courts at Doty Park just about any morning or afternoon,” Evans wrote in an email.
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