Wellesley releases pickleball survey data, takes peek at possible court sites

The Wellesley Recreation Commission this week held a public hearing (see Wellesley Media recording) to share results of a survey designed to determine pickleball concerns and needs in town. The survey, conducted by the Weston & Sampson arm of the town government consultancy, is part of a process funded through a $70K appropriation at Special Town Meeting last fall.

As pickleball’s popularity has risen in recent years, conflicts have resulted between tennis and pickleball players, and between pickleball players and court neighbors. Environmental and other issues have also been raised, particularly regarding possible future court sites.

The study underway has inventoried current courts on town property, elicited feedback from (mostly) residents, and come up with preliminary ideas for possible court locations on public land. Ideas have also been floated about possible indoor facilities, such as at the Boston Sports Institute on Rte. 9 or the defunct Boston Sports Club near Babson College.

Some 943 people filled out the survey, and more than half shared verbatim comments at the end of the survey, echoing comments that largely have been heard throughout public and online discussion on this topic. Pickleball enthusiasts seek more dedicated courts, better facilities, and more flexible hours, while others would like to see the sport go entirely indoors and shared concerns about the town investing too much in what they fear could be a fad. Some urged the town to put its dollars toward schools and helping the less fortunate in town rather than toward this sport, while others pushed the town to address leaf blower noise ahead of pickleball popping.

More than half of those who filled out the survey said they never played the game, and more than 80% of those filling in the survey were 45 or older (only 13 people age 18-30 took the survey).

The most popular possible spot for pickleball suggested by survey takers was the Morses Pond area, and in fact the town had begun exploring that possibility before launching the current study process. While this area on the one hand is relatively far from homes, it is not entirely insulated, and also raises concerns about environmental impact and intruding on enjoyment of passive recreation on the trails and at the beach.

Where the consultancy really went to work was on crunching numbers on current and possible future pickleball court locations, breaking down the distance from homes or other properties, elevation of those properties, and elevations of current or possible future courts.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of the study shared during this week’s meeting was a look at possible future court locations, including at the Recycling & Disposal Facility (P.U.?), near Town Hall, and the North 40. Depending on the location, issues such as access, tree clearing, and more could be concerns.


survey pickleball
These 12 sites on town property were the only ones that passed initial screening or were suggested by town residents (to be clear, the title of this slide does not indicate that these properties have been selected for court development, only to be considered).


Up next is a draft report from the consultant, with the goal of making a presentation at Town Meeting in late March or early April.

Separately, the Recreation Commission at its March 6 meeting will address 2024 court policies and schedules. Also, a public hearing on the survey results will be held that night, 7pm on March 6.


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