More pickleball courts are likely coming to Arlington as local players urge the county to provide more support.
Last week, County Board member Libby Garvey and Nakish Jordan from Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation paid a visit to the outdoor pickleball courts at Walter Reed Park, near the community center. They were there to talk about what the county was doing to create more courts for a sport that continues to grow in popularity.
That includes striping more courts and potentially building dedicated outdoor pickleball courts at Walter Reed Park.
Today (July 18), the County Board is set to vote on a new Capital Improvement Plan that includes $2 million for more pickleball courts. If the plan is approved, several tennis courts at Walter Reed Park would be converted into dedicated pickleball courts, Jordan told players.
“This is central county. Lots of people come out. There’s plenty of parking [here],” Jordan said about why this was a good spot for more courts. “And there are bathrooms here.”
Even if the plan gets approved today by the County Board, though, it could take a couple of years before new courts are built.
Voters would need to pass a bond referendum in November and, then, community engagement would happen early next year, DPR spokesperson Susan Kalish told ARLnow in an email. After that, design and permitting could happen mid to late next year. Finally, construction could begin in late 2023 and be completed sometime in the summer of 2024.
The timeframe for restriping a number of existing tennis and basketball courts for multi-use so that pickleball could be played on them as well is a bit quicker. Kalish noted that could be done by next spring, provided the CIP and bond referendum both get passed.
In total, the CIP dedicates $2 million to pickleball projects, including the Walter Reed Park courts and the restriping project.
Despite these assurances about the future, a number of players expressed their annoyance to the county officials about a lack of courts amid burgeoning demand. The courts are often filled to capacity, several people said, leaving players with long waits for their turn to put paddle to ball.
“We need more pickleball lines on under-used tennis courts,” said a resident. “While [the Walter Reed Park courts] are being renovated, we will need other places to play.”
Garvey noted that there isn’t only so much court space in the county. Despite pickleball’s growth, players need to share the space with other sports, she said.
“We need to keep in mind everyone who needs things… as a County Board member, I need to think about everybody,” Garvey said. “Even the people who aren’t here and we don’t hear from — [we need to] make sure we are serving them as well. We are going have to find a way to co-exist.”
There are currently 11 indoor and 20 outdoor multi-use courts where pickleball can be played in the county.
However, one popular court at Glebe Road Park has been shut down over the summer due to the sound the ball makes when it hits the paddle drawing complaints from neighbors.
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