Arlington County has spent more than $150,000 on acoustic fencing to help manage the noise coming from pickleball courts.
In recent weeks and months, acoustic fencing has gone up around multi-use courts at five different parks around the county. That includes Glebe Road Park, Marcey Road Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, and Walter Reed Community Center, which were installed just last week — and two years ahead of schedule.
Fort Scott Park will also have fences installed “in the coming weeks,” Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) spokesperson Jerusalem Solomon told ARLnow via email.
Solomon noted that Glebe Road Park’s fencing went up in mid-April, and “neighbors and players have shared that it has been working well to dampen noise from pickleball play.”
In all, $153,913.25 has been spent on the fencing so far. The Walter Reed Community Center installation alone cost $41,235.70, Solomon said.
“In determining a way to balance the demand for pickleball while also being sensitive to the surrounding community, the County decided to make this investment as a way to help alleviate some of the impacts that noise from pickleball play has on neighbors,” Solomon wrote. “This is why fencing that faces homes that are less than 300 feet away were prioritized in the planning for installation.”
Along with putting up fencing, DPR crews are also restriping tennis courts for pickleball at four of those parks — Fort Scott Park, Marcey Road Park, Hayes Park and Virginia Highlands Park — in accordance with the Arlington Outdoor Courts Assessment Project. That study determined those parks were the best places to re-strip tennis courts for pickleball. It was a recommendation that was first made back in April.
At least one civic association disagreed with how the process played out, though. Earlier this summer, the Donaldson Run Civic Association sent a letter to DPR arguing that there wasn’t “any real opportunity for input from our neighborhood” before restriping courts at Marcey Road Park.
This came on the heels of the Old Glebe Civic Association also suggesting some sort of legal action against the county for much the same reason. Additionally, a group of neighbors near Walter Reed Community Center contemplated a lawsuit because of the plan to bring more courts to the facility.
Arlington’s pickleball problem has received recent national attention, from a New York Times story to a discussion on NPR’s nationally syndicated show 1A to fodder for jokes on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. However, it appears some of the emotions have since cooled.
Old Glebe Civic Association president Howard Solodky told ARLnow in an email that the recently installed fencing and the closing of a few courts have helped quiet the noise.
“The combination of closure of the standalone pickleball court that was closest to the homes on N. Tazewell, the placement of sound insulating material around two sides of the tennis/pickleball courts and reduced hours at Glebe Park has proven satisfactory to the affected homeowners, while not perfect,” Solodky wrote.
At Marcey Road Park, fencing has also recently gone up. Donaldson Run Civic Association president Bill Richardson told ARLnow that while it’s too early to tell how much impact the fencing will have on mitigating the noise, he does appreciate the county considering their concerns. He hopes the thousands of dollars the county has spent on acoustic fencing is worth it.
“There is a debate about whether [the fencing] is or isn’t effective. The county says they have studies that have shown that acoustic fencing is effective,” Richardson said. “I don’t know who’s right on that, but that’s one of the things that we will be watching.”
(Updated 10:35 a.m.) The Arlington County Board is acquiring a pair of properties in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood to expand Fort Scott Park.
The Board approved the purchase of the properties — including a home at 705 31st Street S. and an adjacent vacant lot — for just over $1.4 million at its Saturday meeting. The county plans to tear down the house, which is being sold by a trustee after its owner recently passed away.
“Recently, County Real Estate Bureau staff was contacted by the owner of the properties, who inquired whether the County would be interested in purchasing the properties because they abut Fort Scott Park,” wrote county staff in a report to the Board.
The lots are a combined 14,305 square feet and are just south of the park, which officials are planning to expand while updating pedestrian and bicycle paths, per the staff report.
Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development determined that the house, which was built in 1948, has no historical or architectural merit.
The expansion is considered part of the county’s Public Spaces Master Plan, which was updated in April and includes a goal to add a minimum of 30 acres of land to the county’s public spaces over the next 10 years.
Fort Scott Park was once a Civil War-era fort named after Winfield Scott, the General-in-Chief of the Union Army General, according to a county press release.
The full press release is after the jump.