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Pickleball: Debate continues over what to do with the courts at the Walter Reed Community Center

The new plan presented by the county includes creating 6 dedicated pickleball courts at the Walter Reed Community Center.

ARLINGTON, Va. — On the courts, it's all fun and games. Off the courts, any way you slice it, pickleball and its life on the Walter Reed Community Center courts draws a crowd.

The county heard from more than 1,300 people after their first open house in February. Tuesday night was round two.

Some residents say noise continues to be a big issue.

Erik Beach is the Park Development Division Chief for Arlington County. He says some of the key concerns they've heard from residents include noise, parking, and the layouts.

"We have reduced the number of courts in the original scope from nine courts to six courts," Beach said. "That has the effect of reducing some of the impact of noise, parking and easing the play on the site here."

He says the scope for the pickleball court project includes: 

  • 6 dedicated pickleball courts at the tennis court area (e.g., court pavement, netting, lighting, fencing, and associated sport equipment) 
  • Sound reduction measures 
  • Seating and shade 
  • Pathways with ADA access improvements 
  • Storm water management 
  • Signage 
  • Landscaping 
  • Basketball court restriping

He says the courts draw crowds of picklers.

"This place particularly, it has this very strange vibe, I'd say, and people will stand and wait 20 minutes for a game," said Kathleen Murray.

"It's a sport I can still play when my bones are too sore for tennis," said Neil Shawen.

Both are Arlington residents who have a love for the sport. Shawen had his love for pickleball on display, through his pickle themed shirt 

"It's my best pickleball shirt," he told WUSA9.

Some might say pickleball is a "big dill" to him.

"Old, young, fat, skinny, Black and white and green – everybody can come and play pickleball," said Shawen.

For others, it's not so much a disdain for the sport, but rather frustration with the way the county is handling the influx of players and games at the courts.

"I enjoy the sport, but I don't know if they'd be as adamant about having more courts if they have to live next to the courts," said one neighbor of the Walter Reed Community Center.

"I'm very much not anti-pickleball. What I am is very unhappy for the way the county has planned for dealing with the pickleball demand in the county," said Armand Ciccarelli. 

Beach says they're listening to both players and frustrated neighbors and are open to continuing the conversation.

"We're here to listen we really want to be able to take these concepts these good ideas to evolve into a solution," said Beach.

He told WUSA9 they are still collecting more feedback. He says they will go through a similar process to the way they handled the last batch of feedback.

The county says their goal is to get the design plans submitted by the end of the summer, and to begin construction next year.

For more on the county's plans and to weigh in, click here

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