, 2023-01-07 08:03:10,
FORT LAUDERDALE — Let’s talk pickleball, that wildly popular game that’s seen explosive growth in the past few years.
Fans of the fast-growing sport say South Florida is in desperate need of more places to play.
Two guys from Fort Lauderdale, retired entrepreneurs who share players’ frustration in waiting for a court, are on a mission to build what they call a world-class pickleball complex in Snyder Park that could draw anywhere from 200 to 500 people a day.
My Park Initiative’s Brad Tuckman, 49, and Richard Campillo, 60, say they came up with their grand plan while brainstorming at a local coffee house. They turned to Ellyn Bogdanoff, an attorney and former state senator, for help in finding the best spot for an 8-acre pickleball complex with 42 courts, a restaurant and other amenities.
Lockhart Park was out because the city had other plans, Bogdanoff said. Holiday Park, with six busy pickleball courts, didn’t have room for 42 more. So they looked to Snyder Park, 91 acres of green paradise with nature trails, a dog park, two lakes, a disc golf course and multipurpose field.
Tuckman and Campillo sent an unsolicited proposal to City Hall in August 2021 to build their new pickleball complex in the park, located at 3299 SW Fourth Ave., east of Interstate 95 and less than a mile from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The deal won commission approval on Nov. 1 despite an outcry from nearby residents worried about noise and traffic and community activists complaining about another land giveaway.
Bogdanoff says she warned her clients early on they might face opposition.
And boy have they.
Community activists and volunteers are gathering petition signatures to try to block the project. Battles play out almost daily on social media, with both fans and foes of the project arguing the pros and cons and accusing one other of spreading misleading information.
“The other side has given people the impression we are paving over 90 acres,” Bogdanoff said. “They are telling people, ‘We are losing Snyder Park.’ No one [on our side] is trying to mislead anyone. But people have to engage and find out the facts.”
To clear up one point of contention: Some folks think the massive pickleball complex will somehow fit on a half-acre of land that’s now…
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