What’s with all the racquet?A sport played mostly by senior citizens is growing beyond the city’s expectations and additional noise complaints prompted a discussion to reduce hours of play.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
A sport played mostly by senior citizens is growing beyond the city’s expectations and additional noise complaints prompted a discussion to reduce hours of play.
Pickle ball is a game that falls somewhere between tennis and ping pong. It’s played on a surface smaller than a tennis court, where the net is a couple of inches lower and the racquets resemble oversized ping pong paddles. The game is also played with a wiffle ball at Woodbury’s Shawnee Park.
Recreation supervisor Jodi Sauro said the city has received six complaints regarding parking and noise from the paddles and balls.
The local pickle ball group comprises about 140 players who play during park hours, sometimes seven days a week.
“We encourage people to utilize any of our facilities during open hours,” Sauro said.
But she added that organized programs are usually scheduled within specific time frames.
“We don’t typically schedule facilities seven days a week,” she said. “We try and allow for some break for the residents who live near the park to also enjoy those facilities.”
Club members, however, say the noise levels are within reasonable limits.
A number of players contacted the city responding to the recent complaints and asked for them to continue supporting pickle ball.
“It just seemed not quite right for a few people to stop so many other people in a public park,” said David Windorski. “We haven’t broken any laws and that’s part of the deal.”
Windorski said the club started with just a few people from the east metro who gathered at the park to play the game.
Some joined the group for social aspects, while others get competitive.
Now as the senior population increases in Woodbury, the club continues to attract more members, Windorksi said.
“It took the city by surprise how fast it’s growing,” he said, “because there are so many seniors here.”
The city responded to pickle ball players with a statement where City Administrator Clint Gridley said the city has invested about $4,000 in the program and will continue to support the game.
Staff met with pickle ball group leaders twice in August and the results of the meetings were unsuccessful, he said.
He added because of the lateness in the season, the best approach is to complete the season without implementing any changes.
However, he encouraged the group to use Pioneer Park courts to decrease congestion at Shawnee Park.
“As tennis courts and things are being resurfaced and looked at we’ll also look at other locations,” Sauro said. “Knowing a little bit more about pickle ball, we need to try and figure out the best location for that.”
Just like other sports played by large groups, she said it would be best to come up with a decision that satisfies nearby residents and players at the same time.
“We’ll continue to work with the group and work with the neighborhood to ensure success moving forward,” Sauro said. “In recreation, we think it’s great people are recreating and using the facility. It’s a good problem to have.”