Ping pong and pickleball will join tennis and other activities in Ashland's parks, thanks to a host of projects being tackled by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department.
This week, crews are excavating and pouring a concrete pad that will support an outdoor concrete ping pong table at Hunter Park by mid-October.
Parks Director Don Robertson said paddles and balls will be left out at the table. If the equipment disappears, people can check out paddles and balls from the nearby Daniel Meyer Pool or the Ashland Senior Center.
"It adds another layer of activity and a reason to come out," Robertson said.
Ping pong will provide an activity for kids whose siblings are competing on the nearby Little League fields or those waiting for the pool to open, he said.
Crews are resurfacing tennis courts at Hunter Park and Lithia Park, which were last resurfaced nine or 10 years ago, Robertson said.
That project started in late September and all courts are expected to reopen on Oct. 8. The parks department is trying to keep two courts open for play throughout the project.
One of Lithia Park's courts will be repainted to accommodate pickleball, a fast-moving sport played with a racquet and wiffleball.
Local resident and pickleball enthusiast Marty Burns said he's excited the sport is coming to an Ashland park.
"Pickleball is a growing sport with an enthusiastic following," he said.
Unglamorous but necessary work during late September through early October will include crack-and-seal coating of parking lots at the Ashland Family YMCA, Hunter Park and the Oak Knoll Golf Course.
Garfield Park's parking lot was resurfaced and re-striped in late August, and new playground equipment will be installed in spring 2013, according to parks staff members.
The Nos. 7 and 8 greens at the golf course are being reconstructed, with new turf scheduled to go in early in October. Those greens will be reopened for play in mid-October.
A small arched concrete bridge at Lithia Park's lower duck pond is being replaced with a granite bridge, staff said.
Parks officials have long said the parks system has a backlog of deferred maintenance projects.
In deciding which projects to tackle, Robertson said Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission members looked at two main criteria.
"The commissioners asked, 'Are we correcting a dangerous situation? Are we preserving the amenity's life?'" Robertson said.
Another project on the horizon is reconstructing sidewalks at Hunter Park that are plagued by tree roots and other problems, Robertson said.
For the North Mountain Park Nature Center, the parks department is seeking bids until Oct. 23 for a small, ground-floor addition to the center, which operates out of a restored farmhouse.
The estimated cost for that project is about $30,000, Robertson said.
The project will add much-needed office space to the popular Nature Center, he said.
"We have people crammed into nooks and crannies," Robertson said
The host of other projects being undertaken by the parks department range from about $1,000 to several thousand dollars each, he said.
Money for the projects comes from the parks department's budget, he said.
Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.