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An acoustic fence is coming to Walter Reed pickleball courts — a couple of years ahead of schedule

Those living near Walter Reed Community Center may soon get a reprieve from the pickleball pop.

Next week, a 10-foot-tall acoustic fence will be installed at the multi-use pickleball and tennis courts at 2909 16th Street S., south of Columbia Pike.

It is set to go up between Monday, Aug. 28 and Friday, Sept. 1, weather permitting, per a county press release.

The fence caps off months of escalating tensions and comes more than a month after a splashy New York Times article about the neighborhood and its pickleball plight.

Already a pickleball hub, the community center is set to become home to dedicated pickleball courts as part of the Walter Reed Outdoor Pickleball Court project. After hearing from disgruntled neighbors, some of whom considered pursuing legal action, the county decided to add noise-mitigating features — including acoustic fencing.

Some residents welcomed these changes but pointed out they would take a couple of years — leaving them to deal with the noise until then. The fencing going up next week could reduce noises some two years ahead of schedule.

The fencing will be up until construction starts, says Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jerry Solomon. It will be properly stored and reused when more acoustic fencing goes up as part of the pickleball project.

Beyond acoustic fencing, other elements of DPR’s plans to add dedicated pickleball facilities to Walter Reed have changed in response to public feedback. The department intends to add sound walls and landscaping, build six courts rather than nine and locate them further from neighbors.

Since the noise complaints began, DPR has taken other steps to reduce the incessant “pock” sound.

Last fall, the parks department reduced the court’s operating hours to open from sunrise or 7 a.m., whichever is later, to close at 10 p.m. This spring, it again reduced playing hours to match those of the community center. DPR added locks to the gates at close to ensure people do not sneak for after-hours play.

The biggest noise reduction, however, could be a temporary ban on play next Monday through Friday for the fence installation.

“Play will not be allowed on these days between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” the county said in a release. “If you are looking for alternative locations to play while Walter Reed courts are closed, please check out the County’s pickleball and tennis webpages.”

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