The racquet center could serve many of the same functions as the Community Center, but for residents in the southern part of the city, staff members said.
A few years ago, Palm Coast was expecting to build a regional racquet center that would attract tennis and pickleball tournaments and give local athletes a place to play and practice. Now, city staff members are envisioning a facility with a broader focus — something that offers some of the functions of the Palm Coast Community Center, but further south.
"We would like to mirror our successful concept at our Palm Coast Community Center down here," Palm Coast Assistant City Manager Lauren Johnston said at a June 28 City Council workshop.
In the northern part of the city, Johnston said, recreation facilities serve multiple generations and many types of users. The Community Center has been reaching maximum capacity, even through the pandemic.
"We're really seeing that the [residents'] needs in our northern facilities are met, both indoor and outdoor," she said.
The southern portion of the city has recreation options — for instance, the Tennis Center, Central Park and the new Lehigh Trail trailhead — but nothing like the Palm Coast Community Center.
The proposed regional racquet center would have 10 clay courts and some pickleball courts, said city Parks and Recreation Director James Hirst. It would have general exercise programs as well as tennis and pickleball programs, and would host special events.
Palm Coast's reconsideration of how the regional racquet center could best serve the community comes as city staff analyze what residents want in terms of recreation options, particularly in the southern part of the city.
That means determining, for instance, how much demand there is for an aquatic center versus sports fields or facilities for senior services, Johnston said.
The city government is also coordinating with the county government on a countywide recreation master plan, she said, and that process will help city staff prioritize recreation projects.
Mayor David Alfin asked the city manager to work with other potential partners — "the county in particular, but our other collaborative partners, YMCA," he said — on an aquatic center that would meet the needs and expectations of both young people and seniors.
He added, "I understand that to be a long-term project, but time to start talking about it."