Association sport

County could be sued over pickleball courts, civic association says

A tennis court at Glebe Road Park has been repainted for pickleball (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Local civic association says trial may be imminent the infamous pop pickleball.

In a recent community newsletter, leaders of the Old Glebe Civic Association detailed their displeasure with the county ending a pilot program which closed a popular freestanding pickleball court at Glebe Road Park earlier this year.

The program was originally adopted as a way to dampen the noise of the loud pop sound produced by a pickleball hitting a paddle that bothered some close neighbors, primarily those who live in a cul-de-sac near the courts.

The OGCA called this pilot program a “compromise” because it also sought to appease players by restricting a nearby tennis court for pickleball. So there were now four courts, compared to the previous three. But with the program now “abandoned”, the bulletin said, “the issue of noise has become more contentious”.

The county has since proposed another pilot program that would reopen the freestanding pickleball court but with limited hours and surrounded by a “noise fence,” a Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson told ARLnow.

However, the OGCA opposes any reopening of the pickleball court and wrote that if the county doesn’t find a better way to dampen the noise, legal action could be taken.

“We hope that a new compromise can be found before the parties involved turn to the courts to resolve the issue, as has happened on several occasions in other cities across the country,” the bulletin said.

Pickleball has exploded in popularity in recent years at Arlington. This prompted the players to ask the county for more courts – which the county should now deliver after a bond referendum including $2 million for pickleball has past.

However, the impact of the sport’s rise has not been welcomed by everyone. Crowds and noise – especially the loud pop of pickleball – in some local courts have disturbed some surrounding neighbors. This includes those who live nearby Glebe Road Park.

“Pickleball noise has become a major problem for residents of neighboring homes – especially those who live in the section of Tazewell Street off 38th Street,” reads the OGCA bulletin. “Some of the houses are only 135 feet from a ‘stand alone’ pickleball court; noise from the courtyard reverberates across the amphitheater-like ground that slopes down to Tazewell Street and can be heard distinctly (and constantly) inside the houses.

These concerns are Not single in Arlington, the county is looking to other jurisdictions to figure out how best to negotiate a pickleball peace. The initial pilot program, which ran from April to early September, closed the pickleball court closest to the homes, but also added two more courts to the park by redesigning a tennis court.

While the county “learned a lot” from the pilot, it didn’t paint a “full picture” of the best path forward, a county official told ARLnow.

“Over the past few months, tennis and pickleball players, despite some inherent conflicts, have come to terms with sharing the two multi-purpose courts at Glebe Park. The courts have been very busy,” DPR spokeswoman Martha Holland said. “Throughout the duration of this pilot project, we have heard from park users and neighbors about the need to reopen the stand-alone field and allow pickleball as well as other recreational options (soccer, fitness training, etc.) .”

So in response, the county is instituting a “Phase 2” pilot program that will maintain markings on the park’s tennis courts and install “noise fencing” on three sides of the freestanding court.

“The side of the court that touches the basketball court will not be wrapped, for safety reasons. Once the fence is erected, DPR will re-open the land and monitor its use,” Holland said.

In addition, the court will be available through a reservation system and the court lights will be turned off at 10 p.m.

There is no specific timeline for the launch of the new pilot program, Holland noted, due to supply chain issues that are slowing fence construction. When the pilot project is instituted, it will last six to eight months.

The leadership of the civic association, however, believes that the new pilot program will “likely significantly worsen the noise problem”, mainly due to the reopening of the autonomous court.

They believe that noise barriers will do little to muffle sound due to the houses’ proximity to the courts. Additionally, with no barriers around the tennis courts, sound will continue to stream from those courts, the OGCA bulletin predicts, noting that with the freestanding court reopening, there will be five pickleball courts. at Glebe Road Park.

In September, after the first pilot program ended, the OGCA said it sent a letter to the county asking for the original pilot program to be reinstated and the autonomous court closed. But it appears that letter did not deter the DPR from reopening the Autonomous Court, prompting a shot written across the arc in the neighborhood bulletin.

“The OGCA will continue to monitor the situation and work toward a solution that meets the needs of park users and nearby residents,” the Residents’ Newsletter advised. “But at the moment a solution without litigation seems unlikely.”

Holland confirmed that DPR did receive the letter.

“We have received this email and are working to schedule a meeting with OGCA members, neighbors, pickleball players and tennis players to discuss opportunities to find a balance of uses in the park,” she said. “We look forward to this discussion and hope that we will be able to determine a way forward that works for everyone involved.”

As for the potential lawsuit, Holland said, “We don’t comment on potential legal actions.”