OGDEN -- Local philanthropist John Gullo has helped speed up the construction of four pickleball courts at Mount Ogden Park.
Gullo, who heads the American Dream Foundation, is paying about $57,000 to employ a firm to finish construction of the courts within two weeks at the park at 1787 Constitution Way. He plans to donate the completed courts to the city.
Gullo's private funding of the courts means the city council does not have to adopt a Capital Improvement Plan amendment prior to construction of the courts, because no municipal funds are being used, said Mayor Matthew Godfrey.
Typically, a CIP amendment is needed for any municipal facility improvement valued at more than $10,000. Waiting for possible council action on an amendment would have slowed the construction of the courts.
The council is not expected to take issue with Gullo's construction of the courts, said Bill Cook, the council's executive director.
Gullo is looking forward to introducing pickleball to help area residents get fit.
"You bend, stretch and move (playing pickle ball) but you don't kill yourself," said Gullo, who plays the sport three days a week, two hours a day, when he's at his winter home in St. George. He credited pickle ball as being instrumental in his recovery from November 2008 heart surgery.
Pickleball will be a welcome addition at Mount Ogden Park, said Godfrey.
"It's really fun," he said. "I'll be interested is seeing the spectrum of users."
Gullo plans to hold a free pickleball demonstration at the courts from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 13.
He's also donating pickleball equipment that can be rented from Mount Ogden Golf Course pro shop and hopes to establish a local pickleball association.
The new courts will be built east of the existing tennis courts at Mount Ogden Park. A 930-square-foot extension of the sidewalk that runs along the east side of the tennis courts would be built to provide access to the pickleball courts.
The courts, which, all told, will have a playing surface nearly the size of a single regulation tennis court, will be fenced to contain the ball on the site.
Named after Pickles, a cocker spaniel that belonged to the sport's co-inventor, Joel Pritchard, a former congressman from Washington state, pickleball has been around since 1965, according to the USA Pickleball Association's website at www.usapa.org.
It is played on a badminton-sized court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. Players use a perforated plastic baseball similar to a Whiffle ball and wood or composite paddles.