I am convinced many communities do not want basketball courts in their parks. Perhaps some also do not want pickleball, a growing sport? An example from Chicago:
Disgruntled residents unhappy with the noise and the pickleball takeover of the “unique wide-open blacktop area” launched a petition to boot pickleball from the park and restore it to “a safe and open space for kids to play in Lincoln Park,” according to the petition which has garnered more than 780 signatures…
“The confrontations, complaints and frustrations are a direct result of this dishonest and unethical action,” wrote Leslie Miller, who started the anti-pickleball petition, in a March 10 update on the online petition. “Moreover, this dispute has created an atmosphere of tension and unpredictability that feels unsafe for children.”
Pickleball players have countered with their own petition in support of the game, which has attracted nearly 700 signatures so far. Myers said issues with pickleball at the park seem to stem from wanting control, and he can understand some of the counter pickleball points, such as the noise complaints, but not necessarily agree with them…
In a statement Tuesday, the Park District said it “is committed to balancing the needs and interests of the community surrounding Bauler Park. The district recently implemented a plan to dedicate space for pickleball at Bauler Park, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. With the exception of these designated times, the space will remain open for other recreational activities during normal park hours. The Park District will continue to work with the community to identify additional locations to support the sport.”
These concerns are many of the same ones neighbors fight over in neighborhoods and communities across the United States. Who gets to control the use of the property? What land uses are desirable? What about the children? Is there too much noise? The only two common ones missing: any concerns about water (do pickleball courts contribute to water runoff, particularly compared to play areas for kids?) and property values.
On the other hand, it is good that people are using the park and are engaged with its use. Given all of the possible activities residents might want to do in the park, balancing all of these interests can be tricky. Do all parks have to offer certain amenities? How far are people willing to go to find their preferred activity? What should be left to the private sector.
Given the relatively recent rise of pickleball, perhaps this will all die down soon. Or, perhaps this fight is coming to many parks across the country as more established uses give way to more recent trends.