ARLINGTON, Va. (DC News Now) — The sport of pickleball has taken over one neighborhood in Arlington County and now, there’s controversy over what to do with a major hub for the popular game.
The county is planning a $1.5 million renovation to the outdoor courts at the Walter Reed Community Center. But with the goal of satisfying two groups with competing interests, the planning aspect of the project has led to disagreements.
Pickleball players want to make sure there are enough permanent courts for them to play, but some people — including many who live across the street — said the county needs to solve a growing noise problem.
At an open house on Tuesday night, county staff showed proposals and two options for the project to dozens of interested Arlingtonians.
“I think people are passionate about both how they want to recreate and where they live,” said Erik Beach with the Arlington County Parks and Recreation Department.
People who live across the street from the courts say the noise, both from the game and the players, is too much.
“They come, they play for an hour, they go home,” said Mary McKee. “I’m already home. I have to live with your noise.”
They are not convinced that the proposals, which could add acoustic fencing and move the courts back a few dozen feet, are enough.
“Acoustic fencing is inadequate as a sound barrier,” said Armand Ciccarelli, who opposes that part of the project. “It’s too short.”
Players are not fully satisfied either. They’re pleased the courts, which currently are shared with tennis, will become dedicated pickleball spaces. But the plan involves only six courts, not the current nine — which exists because the basketball court is being used as three pickleball courts, too.
Jean Miller, who plays pickleball at the community center, said six courts are not enough.
“And this is intended to be somewhat of a pickleball central for Arlington,” she said.
It’s a dilemma of ‘too much’ versus ‘not enough’ — one the county has to solve, as the sport that can bring people together, isn’t doing that right now.
“I love it, it’s nice,” said Ingrid Morroy, who plays pickleball. She also serves as Arlington’s Commissioner of Revenue. “I make friends, I make friends from all walks of life and all political persuasions.”