The tennis court in Williams Park in Bangor. Credit: Gabor Degre

Two new amenities — one of which has been in the works for close to a decade — will be coming to two Bangor parks this year, provided budgets and building plans are approved.

Bangor Parks and Recreation has submitted a budget request to the city to convert the unused tennis courts at Williams Park on Newbury Street into pickleball courts, as part of its 2019-20 fiscal year budget.

The department is also in the final stages of preparing Hayford Park on Thirteenth Street for the building of a long-awaited new skate park, to replace the skate park that has been located just off Union Street since 2011.

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“These are both things that will offer new amenities and important upgrades for people in our community,” Director Tracy Willette said.

The new skate park has been in the works for years. The Union Street location was supposed to be a temporary location for the park when it was forced to move from its original location at Bass Park, when the Cross Insurance Center was being built between 2011 and 2013. Many of the wooden ramps at the Union Street location are falling apart, and the location offers almost no shade during hot summers, and no easy access to public restrooms.

Credit: Carter F. McCall | BDN file

It has been a nearly eight-year process to select a location for the new skate park. Proposed locations for the park have changed a number of times over the years. They’ve included Essex Woods, Broadway Park, Williams Park and behind Parks and Recreation headquarters at 647 Main St. In the end, the original location suggested for the new park — Hayford Park, home to Mansfield Stadium and the Pancoe Pool complex — was the one that best suited the needs of the community, according to Willette.

Willette said he expects the permitting process to be completed by the end of the month, at which point his department will ask for proposals for the design and building of the park. If everything goes smoothly, construction could begin as early as August.

Willette intends to work closely with Bangor’s skateboarding community to design the park to their liking. It will be constructed of concrete and will feature a “plaza” design, which integrates street-style features such as ledges and rails with ramps and bowls built into the terrain.

“We want to make it a true community effort,” Willette said. “As someone who saw the original park built in 2000, and then has been here through the second park, it is really gratifying to finally see this almost done.”

The Black Bear Skate Park Association, a local skateboarding booster club, has raised around $30,000 for construction, and Willette said additional money will come from local organizations and from state and national grants.

As for the pickleball courts at Williams Park, Willette said a group of avid players who play at Armstrong Tennis Center in Hampden approached him last year about potentially turning the disused tennis courts at the park into pickleball courts. Pending the City Council’s approval of the budget request next month, the courts could be converted by the end of the summer.

“They wanted to have an outdoor option for playing, and it’s really a win-win for us,” Willette said. “It utilizes a space that’s been in disuse for a long time, and it allows us to offer something new in our facilities.”

Pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton and is played on a hard-surfaced, 20-by-44-foot court. Players hit plastic wiffle balls with paddles that are a little larger than ping-pong paddles. Like in ping-pong, the scoring is done in single digits. The match continues until the first player or team reaches 11 points.

Bangor has tennis courts at Hayford Park and at Little City Park.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.