The Wellesley Recreation Commission on Monday, May 15 met to discuss the latest on the town’s pickleball dilemma, figuring out how to satisfy both people who want to play the paddle sport and neighbors who want relief from the noise.
The Commission had planned to discuss a proposal for a sound study from a firm called HMMH introduced at its previous meeting, but that outfit decided not to make a bid after receiving the town’s request, which was for a multifaceted study across courts, weather conditions, time of day, and use of different types of pickleball equipment, including sound-muffling gear.
That left most of the meeting for commissioners to deliberate over a recommendation to the School Committee, which oversees the courts at Sprague Field, Wellesley’s pickleball hotbed.
The meeting started with citizen speak, including from neighbors who pleaded with the Commission to find other places in town for pickleball to be played. One caller, Rob Mastroianni from Falmouth, described a lawsuit that neighbors have brought against the town of Falmouth over pickleball noise and a temporary injunction that has shut down courts for pickleball. “We’re going to court feeling pretty good and positive,” he said, noting that the Sprague court situation isn’t all that different than the one in Falmouth. “There’s not a lot of reason why the abutters and neighbors [in Wellesley] shouldn’t take the same path,” he said. Though added: “I think it should be avoided, it’s very divisive…”
After a quick look at pickleball reservation data in town over the past year (1,000-plus reservations), Rec Commission Chair Paul Cramer laid out a possible scenario that would entail initial compromise followed by a long-term solution of locating pickleball courts away from homes.
The near-term solution could involve moving the current Sprague courts a bit further away within the same court facility, tightening hours of play, and requiring use of quieter equipment, plus painting lines for four pickleball courts at the Hunnewell tennis courts on Washington Street to help the town keep up with demand for play. Putting up screens to shield neighbors from pickleball isn’t seen as a viable option given the way sound travels and the elevation of some properties above the courts.
“In the interim until we get to a solution where we’ve got courts at Morses Pond or somewhere else, we try to accommodate the people who are trying to get some exercise, and we try to make life less miserable for the neighbors,” Cramer said.
The longer-term solution could involve courts at a location away from homes, such as the Morses Pond parking lot.
Rec’s next move will be to reach out to the School Committee, which oversees the Sprague Field courts, and the Natural Resources Commission, which oversees the Hunnewell courts. Things are intertwined, as the school system has previously asked not to have pickleball at the Hunnewell courts, where the high school tennis teams practice and play.
Pickleball at Wellesley Country Club on Aug. 7
If you want to get fancy, the Charles River Regional Chamber invites members and non-members to take part in a round-robin pickleball tournament at Wellesley Country Club’s revamped racquet center. After play, you’re invited to a BBQ with those taking part in the chamber’s pickleball and golf events on Monday, Aug. 7.
More: At Wellesley hearing on pickleball noise, the sound of compromise breaks through
Sounding off on Wellesley pickleball noise
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The Recreation Commission had all winter to come up with a proposal to the School Committee. We, the neighbors near the Sprague courts are looking at another summer of pickleball NOISE. Even if the courts are moved 50 feet, even if reduced hours or nerf balls are used to reduce decibels, the Noise itself is annoying creating a fight or flight response at any volume. And then there is enforcement, how does that work.
Please view at least the first 20 min of the video in this article and try to understand the frustration of residents living close to these courts and the Town’s continuing inaction.
The Recreation Commission should no longer be in charge of this matter at Sprague. The Tennis Courts belong to the School Department not the RC. Use them as Tennis Courts and move pickleball away from homes. The rights of pickleball players do not override the health and quality of life of residents. How long do you think pickleball would last if the courts were over at the Cliff Estates? 24 hours and they would be gone.
Kate MARTIN says
I’d much rather have pickle ball courts in the Cliff Estates in lieu of constant gas powered leaf-blowers and oversized lawnmowers.
Never say things too early, karma is there for you eventually.
Easy to say if you don’t live near it.
I camped near airport recently, and there is noise, but not as annoying as pickleball noise No wonder Portland, Oregon talks to use pickleball chase away homeless.
Ironically, I am the homeless in Wellesley, home to me is not safe anymore, I am afraid to come back come, even drive in the parking lot, those sharp annoying pop pop pop sound hits my nerve every second.
Some noise is not about how loud it is, it is about pattern too, that’s why alarm clock sound is designed to wake you up, it is not loudest noise, but those repetitive, low and loud combo pattern can panentrate your nerve.
Rec is to balance players and neighbors, but they didn’t own the Sprague, they are not to be counted any liability, but School Committee, please make the right decision to the neighbors.
These courts are too close to dwellings and moving them approximately 50 ft will do very little to abate NOISE, not to mention compliance issues when mandating specific racquets or balls. Will they have a Recreation Commission Staff member constantly policing the courts?
Furthermore, the School Committee deferring decision making to the Recreation Commission has allowed this issue to drag on far longer than it should have. The facts are clear, the School Department has responsibility over these courts, not the Recreation Commission. They should close the courts.