Sunday, March 25, 2018
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20171116 Pine to Palm Pickleball HM IMG 2955

Pine to Palm resident Dave Gemmell enjoys playing on one of the two new pickle ball courts at the resort, which also built 20 new shuffleboard courts for residents.

There are new “toys” to welcome Winter Texans back at many parks and resorts across the Rio Grande Valley this year.

From new cooks and paved roads to amenities for furry friends, Winter Texan parks are investing in their property and welcoming back their guests with several improvements.

Residents of Pine to Palm RV Resort in Weslaco have brand new shuffleboard courts waiting to be broken in, as well as new two pickleball courts that were added due to the demands of that rapidly growing sport.

“We completely redeveloped our recreational court,” said Park Manager Gretchen Hovda. “We have a huge demand for shuffleboard but pickleball is growing rapidly so we decided to build two courts for our residents who enjoy it.”

Pickleball is played on a miniature sized tennis court and is a mixture of tennis, badminton and ping pong. According to the USA Pickleball Association, there are more than 15,000 indoor and outdoor pickleball courts in the United States, with at least one court in all 50 states. The organization estimates that there are more than 2.5 million pickleball players in the country and it is exploding in popularity.

“It is the fastest growing sport in North America right now,” said Claude Bru, a Pine to Palm resident for 13 years. “I started playing in Winnipeg six years ago and love the new courts.”

20171116 Pine to Palm Pickleball HM IMG 2967

Pine to Palm's Jackie Bru hits a backhand shot while playing pickle ball on one of two new courts at the Weslaco resort.

Bru and two other couples introduced the sport to the park, which has 224 RV spaces and 222 mobile home lots. He said there are about 30 active pickleball members in the park and now that the courts are open that he expects that number to grow on a regular basis.

The park invested approximately $240,000 to remove the old shuffleboard courts and put in 20 new shuffleboard courts and the two pickleball courts.

“We have planned for this for a while because we know how much our residents enjoy these activities,” Hovda said. “The previous shuffleboard courts had been used for 40 years so it was time.”

Bit-O-Heaven RV and Mobile Home Park in Donna, with nearly 700 RV spaces and 155 mobile home lots completed two major projects over the summer, adding a remote control racing track and a fenced-in dog park.

“There's everything needed for you to walk your dog and take it out for a run. It's a fairly large dog park,” said Charlotte Campbell, one of three managers for the park. “There's water for them and everything to pick up after them. We also have people taking care of it and the ones who have animals really love it. Some of the dogs our residents have are rather large, so this is an area for them to take them for a good run and some exercise.”

Remote control racing is another activity that is quickly rising in popularity in the Winter Texan parks. Several parks have built a track ranging from drag racing lanes to dirt to grass to carpet tracks. League play at several parks are scheduled to begin this month and next.

Siesta Retirement Village in Weslaco has 410 mobile home lots and residents there are excited about a new pool being built for them. The old pool was removed and the new pool is 30 x 50 and includes a hot tub, fencing, lounge chairs and other pool furniture. The pool is currently still under construction but is scheduled to open for residents on Jan. 15.

Tom Clark at Sunshine RV Park in Harlingen said they spent the summer working on the large park's infrastructure. With nearly 1,500 lots (1,027 RV and 450 mobile home spaces) the park spent money focusing on repaving the many roads the park has to maintain.

“You can't do the roadwork when most of the residents are here, so that was a major project,” said Clark, the park manager. He added that the park spent about $100,000 on infrastructure, including resurfacing the jacuzzi and re-plastering the main pool.

Other parks had smaller items they focused on. Canyon Lake RV Resort’s acting park manager, Linda Richardson, a resident of the park for seven years, said there were no major projects worked on during the off-season, but they were tweaking some things.

“We've got a lot of new cooks,” she said. “We're trying different foods and different things for different nights of the week. That's going to be fun.”

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