By Michele RobertsonDespite the ongoing pandemic o Cpurtsf Covid-19, the City of Carlsbad has been hard at work making quality of life enhancements for the recreational enjoyment of residents and tourists alike. These improvements can be seen along the beach area, by the tennis courts, and at the sports complex. Carlsbad has many options for outdoor recreation, and two new options are being brought in. KC Cass, Deputy City Administrator for the City of Carlsbad,sharedthe many improvements that can be seenthroughout town. Lake Carlsbad recreation area now boasts a beach volleyball court, with two nets. These courts opened up for play on Thursday January 21st, 2021 and have already seen usage over the weekend with the beautiful weather we had. Volleyball teams and players now have an outdoor space to practice and play at. “We want to enhance the beach area so people can recreate safely,” Cass said. This includes adding more shade, which gives respite from the blazing summer sun and additional sand for safety. Other completed improvements are more shade structures and picnic tables at the sports complex, new shade at Friendship Park, and median work around town. Cornhole boards and more shade structures are planned for more locations along the river as well: the beach area, the island, Lower Tansil and the new beach volleyball and pickleball courts. The fairly unknown sport of pickleball is rapidly gaining momentum here in Carlsbad. So much so that the local players reached out to the city and asked for appropriate courts to play on. Currently, pickleball players are using the tennis courts, with temporary markings. The sport could be described as a cross between badminton, ping pong, and tennis. A pickleball court is about the size of a badminton court and played with special paddles made of wood, composite, or graphite. The ball used is similar to a wiffle ball. According to pickleball.comthere are about 2,000,000 players just in the U.S. The game is playable for people of all ages and abilities. It is easy to learn and a lot of fun. Local pickleball player Ruben Gonsalez has been playing for just over a year, and had hoped to play in the Senior Olympics. “I was inspired by my dad, he did triathlons withthe Senior Olympics. I took what I enjoy doing and went with that. The goal is to get good enough to compete,” he shared.He began playing indoors at the Rec Center and at a local church. When Covid-19 shut down indoor activities, he was only playing with family, but realized more people wanted to try it out. “We moved to the tennis courts and adapted the middle set for pickleball. It’s not correct, but manageable,” Gonsalez said. He approached the city about a proper net and court markings and these conversations led to the creation of new courts. Construction on the pickleball courts began approximately 5 weeks ago, and are projected to be finished in mid to late February. They are located across the street from the tennis courts, with a view of the Pecos River. According to Cass, “It’s more important than ever to provide quality of life improvements.”“Across the river we are working with the Chamber of Commerce to build a retaining wall in preparation for more cornhole boards, horseshoe, and shuffleboard,” Cass shares. Cass relayed that there are many community members and businesses that have donated time, labor, and materials towards the recent improvements. “This makes them low cost upgrades in a difficult time budget wise,” he stated. “It’s great to see the people of Carlsbad, helping the people of Carlsbad,” said Cass.