Ashton receives $23,000 in grants for ’multi-center recreational center

September 18, 2018

ASHTON – A new tennis court, Pickleball court and basketball court is in the works for the city park.

That’s all thanks to two grants recently awarded to the city, says Mayor Teddy Stronks.

“We’re calling it a ‘multi-center recreational center’,” Stronks said of the trio recreation court.

Stronks reported that the city is in line to receive a $10,000 grant from High Five Community Health Academy, an affiliate of Blue Cross. It has also received a $13,000 grant from the Idaho Falls-based CHC Foundation. Private residents also plan to donate funds toward the new facility. The city will also seek other grant funds, Stronks said.

It’s estimated that the multi-center recreational center could cost as much as $122,000, he said.

“The council wants to do as much as we can with grants before we take it out of the budget,” Stronks said.

Plans call for the city to remove the current tennis court since the facility is old and needs to be replaced. A private resident owns six feet of the tennis court, and, as a result, that makes it nearly impossible for the city to apply for grants to fix it up.

Having that section of the tennis courts owned by someone else proves a liability for the city, and the cost to purchase that small amount of property is cost prohibitive for the city, Stronks said.

“He wanted $50,000 for that eight-foot section,” he said.

Instead of purchasing the property, the city has opted to tear out the old tennis court and move it about eight feet from its current location.

“We’re definitely going to tear out the old tennis court. No more trying to patch it,” he said.

CHC requires that the city use its grant funds within a year.

“We’ll try to get started as soon as we can. We have to get it removed, so we can prepare for the new court. It could be later this fall,” he said. “We can start construction this late. The prep work and the excavation shouldn’t take that long. We’ll let it sit over winter and get started in the spring. It depends on the grants.”

Stronks says that developing the multi-recreational center will prove a huge boon for both residents and tourists.

“It’s one project I really want to do. For Ashton, it would just help give people something to do,” he said.

Stronks reported that nonresidents have attended city council meetings urging the city to provide more recreation.

“A lot of out-of-town people (have) voiced their opinion. I’ve got people who have just moved in and have asked to be on the (recreational) committee. There’s been some excitement about it,” he said.

According to Pickleball website, usapa.org, Pickleball proves a game for anyone at any age and at any skill level.

“(It’s) a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong,” the organization said.

Pickleball is played with a paddle – larger than a Ping-Pong paddle but smaller than a tennis racket. A plastic ball covered with holes is also used. The game may be played both indoors and outdoors on badminton-sized court and a modified tennis net. Like tennis, it may be played as singles or doubles, reports the webpage.

“The rules are simple, and the game is easy for beginners to learn. (It) can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players,” it said.

Stronks said Pickleball is a very fun game for everyone.

“Senior people can play and new kids too. It’s probably one of the fastest growing games in America,” he said.

Stronks got the idea to apply for the High Five Grant after learning Rexburg received such a grant last year. Ashton applied for the grant in June.

High Five Grant officials require those receiving the grant to use the money for health related purposes.

“We have to come up with a plan to keep people active and healthy,” Stronks said.

According to a High Five Grant press release, Ashton, Malad, Driggs, Twin Falls and Nampa each received $10,000 to promote health. One of the expectations from Blue Cross officials is that cities work to fight childhood obesity.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five school age children are obese. Since 1970, the number of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled,” said the High Five organization in a press release.

To be considered for the grant, Stronks and his fellow city mayors recently participated in various initiatives, one of which included the High Five Mayor’s Walking Challenge. According to the High Five Idaho organization’s website, this competition is statewide and provides every mayor an opportunity to walk to improve health, build teamwork/school pride and heighten awareness of greater living styles.

“We believe that local leaders are best positioned to make the biggest, most immediate impact on reducing obesity and increasing healthy lifestyles in Idaho,” said Courtney Frost, program director for High Five. “Community Health Academy was created to support them in these efforts.”

In the meantime, Stronks says the city plans to host fundraisers to add to any grants it receives in creating the multi-recreational facility.

“We want to try to get the community involved in it as well. That’s part of it. We’re also going to go for a Land and Water Conservation Grant. We’re going to see what we can get from them,” he said.

Stronks also plans to visit with a tennis court business owner who runs a company in Salt Lake and who recently bought a home in Ashton.

“Tennis court people are hard to find. He seems like a really nice guy. He knows his stuff,” Stronks said.

The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health, Inc., reports that it’s a private, nonprofit charitable foundation established in 2001 by Blue Cross of Idaho. The foundation develops partnerships and various health programs. It is dedicated to addressing Idaho’s health needs.

“The Community Health Academy is a 6-month learning collaborative that works with mayors to develop leadership skills, community improvement projects, and create conversations within the community about healthier lifestyles,” it reported.

For more information on Pickleball, visit https://www.usapa.org/ and for more information on the plans for the multi-recreational center, call the city at 208- 652-3987.

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