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Construction on the planned pickleball courts for the Walter Reed Community Center is expected to begin by the end of this year.

The Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation announced the next steps for the hotly contested project and unveiled 90% complete designs last week. The project is set to go out for bid this spring and a contract is expected to go to the Arlington County Board for approval in the summer.

Work is on track to begin in the fourth quarter of this year, per the announcement.

“Thank you to all who provided feedback throughout the engagement process,” the county said.

The final project design differs only slightly from revised plans that the county announced in November. The county now plans to remove six trees and made minor revisions to its plans for the parking lot at Walter Reed.

The November proposal called for:

  • increasing the distance between future courts near 16th Street S. and residential homes to a distance of about 170 feet
  • adding acoustic fencing to both sets of courts and landscaping in between
  • adding a deck to protect a large existing tree and provide respite space
  • improving circulation for people with disabilities
  • increasing parking spaces by four
  • resurfacing the basketball courts

Pickleball proponents and neighbors irked by the infamous “pickleball pop” have been at loggerheads over plans for the Walter Reed Community Center since 2022.

That is when county officials announced plans to build dedicated pickleball courts at the community center, replacing part of the park’s wooded area along with an existing tennis court that has been co-opted for pickleball.

Residents living near the courts have sought relief from the thwack of pickleballs striking paddles and fiercely opposed plans to further encourage the sport at Walter Reed. They have threatened legal action and distributed fliers with allegations of players bullying children around “hijacked” tennis and basketball courts.

In addition to installing acoustic fencing to soften noise levels, the county had considered pausing the project, putting the question to community members last spring.

“Respondents were slightly more in favor of continuing the project, though it should be noted that respondents who identified as players are more in favor of continuing and those self-identifying as neighbors were more in favor of pausing,” Dept. of Parks and Recreation planning director Erik Beach said in November.

The survey drew skepticism from residents such as Columbia Heights Civic Association President Ron Haddox, who argued that it circulated in pro-pickleball online forums nationally and internationally. He argued that this “calls into question the genuineness of at least some portion of the feedback received.”

An additional round of feedback took place in November and December.

Of the 228 comments provided, the most common refrain, from 69 commenters, was that the final plan does not include enough pickleball courts, followed by 47 people who said the county should keep pickleball on the basketball court. The third most-popular comment type, with 42 mentions, was “looks good/like the compromise.”


Arlington County will continue with plans to build dedicated pickleball courts at the Walter Reed Community Center.

The county had mulled pausing the project, putting the question to community members in a survey this spring.

“Respondents were slightly more in favor of continuing the project, though it should be noted that respondents who identified as players are more in favor of continuing and those self-identifying as neighbors were more in favor of pausing,” Dept. of Parks and Recreation planning director Erik Beach told the Board on Tuesday.

DPR will forge ahead because the sport has health benefits and the center needs renovations either way, he said.

“The county firmly believes in the benefits of providing places for its residents to receive the physical and mental health benefits of being outside, recreating and socializing,” Beach said. “DPR has observed in real-time and validated through professional literature the opportunity provided by pickleball to be a catalyst for those physical and mental benefits.”

The county has selected designs that would:

  • increase the distance between future courts near 16th Street S. and residential homes to a distance of about 170 feet
  • add acoustic fencing to both sets of courts and landscaping in between
  • add a deck to protect a large existing tree and provide respite space
  • improve circulation for people with disabilities
  • increase parking spaces by four
  • resurface the basketball courts

An online survey about the proposal is open now through Dec. 8 and could inform tweaks DPR makes before selecting a contractor by the third quarter of 2024.

Columbia Heights Civic Association President Ron Haddox, meanwhile, is skeptical of the most recent survey. In a letter to the Board, he said the survey circulated in pro-pickleball online forums nationally and internationally, attaching screenshots.

He says pickleballers recommended people submit responses multiple times across platforms and identify as county or 22204 residents, “even if they were not.”

“This obviously concerns us and calls into question the genuineness of at least some portion of the feedback received,” he said.

Beach told the Board that DPR tried to improve the quality of the data by removing several hundred comments from people at least 10 miles away from the community center. In the age of virtual private networks, Haddox says, this may not have done much.

“The use of DPR’s anonymous survey methodology and subsequent efforts to enhance its usefulness have very likely resulted in skewed results that have limited usefulness other than to let the county know that nearly EVERYONE on BOTH sides of this issue is against the idea of permanent courts at WRCC,” he said in a letter to the County Board.

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Pickleball at the Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

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.”


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.”

Pickleball restriping plans for Marcey Road Park (via Arlington County)

Arlington County’s pickleball plans continue to peeve particular people, prompting a potential project pause.

The Donaldson Run Civic Association (DRCA) sent a letter to the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) late last week expressing the belief the department did not sufficiently involve the civic association when making the decision to re-line several tennis courts for pickleball at Marcey Road Park in North Arlington.

“DRCA does not believe the public engagement process for selecting Marcey Park as a pickleball destination provided any real opportunity for input from our neighborhood,” reads the letter signed by DRCA President Bill Richardson.

When initially shown plans for the redesigning of Marcey Park, it did not include any pickleball courts, the letter says, adding that the neighborhood had “specifically rejected pickleball use there.”

Parking is one of the big issues, says DRCA, due to the popularity of the park as well as nearby Donaldson Run Pool and Potomac Overlook Park. Adding pickleball would only exacerbate the issue.

“As we understand it, DPR believes that these problems will not be significantly aggravated by adding pickleball to the already growing existing demands for these various facilities concentrated at the end of Marcey Road,” Richardson writes in the letter. “This view seems inconsistent with the extent of the pickleball craze.”

What’s more, the letter alleges — perhaps erroneously, per the county — that this restriping is scheduled to take place as soon as early as next week, providing a very shortened time frame for the DRCA to provide its thoughts.

“This appears to underscore your determination to disregard any input from our neighborhood in making this decision without regard to the unique problems here,” the letter says.

In response, a DPR spokesperson told ARLnow that there have been numerous opportunities for the public to provide feedback over the last several years. That includes the Outdoor Courts Assessment project, which dates back to the fall of 2021. That assessment determined that Marcey Park was one of eight county parks or community center where it was appropriate to restripe for pickleball.

Altering courts for multiple uses is also a fairly common practice in the county, the spokesperson said.

“Restriping courts or athletic fields for multi-use is a common operations practice in Arlington,” they said. “DPR often puts down soccer lines on diamond fields or have hard surface courts that are striped for basketball and volleyball, for example.”

In addition, restriping for pickleball will not begin next week,  but rather basic maintenance work and the repainting of tennis lines will be taking place.

“Starting the week of June 26, the courts at Marcey Road Park are being repainted and relined for tennis. The addition of pickleball lines at Marcey Road Park does not begin on June 26,” said the spokesperson. “This is in preparation for the addition of pickleball lines later this summer.”

The latest opposition to DPR’s attempts to increase pickleball facilities across the county echoes other concerns that have played out in recent months.

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Pickleball at the Walter Reed Community Center (file photo by Jay Westcott)

Police are on the lookout for a man who has been spotted masturbating multiple times near the Walter Reed pickleball courts.

Cops have been called to the Walter Reed Community Center at 2909 16th Street S. at least two times in the past two weeks, each time in the late morning, according to Arlington County police crime reports.

“At approximately 10:49 a.m. on April 21, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure,” the first crime report said. “Upon arrival, it was determined approximately 30 minutes prior, the reporting party observed the unknown male suspect allegedly masturbating in a wooded area.”

“At approximately 11:42 a.m. on April 26, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure,” said the second. “Upon arrival, it was determined the reporting party observed the unknown male suspect allegedly masturbating by the courts.”

On both days — a Friday and a Wednesday — “responding officers checked the area and the suspect was not located,” ACPD said.

A tipster told ARLnow about a possible third incident, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

“This is concerning as there are many users of the park, including children,” the tipster said about the incidents.

The Walter Reed pickleball courts have recently been the source of some controversy, as some neighbors have opposed voter-approved plans to add more courts outside of the community center.

Resident concerns range from “bullying of our children by pickleball players” to “public urination on playground and sensory garden” to causing “excessive continuous noise from dawn to 10 p.m. every day,” according to a flyer that was distributed around the neighborhood.


One person’s vacant building is another’s future pickleball facility.

Not to be topped by a County Board candidate’s suggestion to put pickleball facilities at the condemned Key Bridge Marriott, Board Vice-Chair Libbey Garvey mulled whether vacant office buildings could be retrofitted for courts.

“We’ve got these office buildings that are kind of empty, and we’re trying to figure out what to do with them,” she asked at the Board’s Tuesday meeting. “Is that a possibility?”

Already recognized in some rankings as a great place to play pickleball, Arlington County is looking to add more courts in response to the sport’s booming popularity. But it has found itself in a pickle, balancing pressure to add courts with pressure to address pickleball-related noise and land use concerns from some neighbors.

During the Arlington County Board conversation with the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, members took a diplomatic approach, in contrast to the threats of legal action, accusations of bullying and public urination, and late night TV lampooning that have characterized the ongoing local pickleball battle.

In addition to Garvey’s vision for pickleball taking over vacant office buildings, others floated nudging private clubs to get in on the fun. They said private courts could ease the burden on the local government to add facilities, mute the “pop” the paddles emit and help address the stubborn office vacancy rate.

Such possibilities would require working with Arlington Economic Development, said Dept. of Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph.

“There’d have to be an evaluation with others who understand layouts of office building and warehouses and things and with [Arlington Economic Development] colleagues about what we could be doing in existing private spaces and if they could be built out,” she said.

Arlington Economic Development’s Director of Real Estate Development Marc McCauley told ARLnow that zoning changes the Arlington County Board approved on Saturday do open up opportunities for private pickleball facilities in vacant retail and commercial spaces.

“These private facilities, such as national operator Chicken N Pickle” — a sport, restaurant and event space — “are emerging concepts that could theoretically relieve some demand pressure on use of pickleball courts in public facilities,” McCauley said. “Challenges may include ceiling height, floor plate size and noise attenuation, but those issues would need to be studied by a property owner and potential tenant on a case by case basis.”

Another example is Kraken Kourts, with two locations in D.C. that offer pickleball, axe throwing, roller skating and a rage room — a place to break things to let off steam.

Board Chair Christian Dorsey asked whether DPR has considered how the the county could “encourage some operators to set up some pickleball facilities so that this doesn’t become solely a government responsibility.”

In communities known for their pickleball amenities, Dorsey observed there are major, private indoor-outdoor facilities which sometimes have “really substantial membership costs or drop-in fee costs.”

This includes, Board member Takis Karantonis noted, “some very private places with a lot of tennis courts — a lot of new tennis courts, actually.”

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Iron Paddles members at the Walter Reed Community Center courts (photo courtesy of Jimmy Brown)

An Arlington-based group wants to “take over pickleball nation” and become the sport’s most talked-about organization within three years.

The Iron Paddles Pickleball Club is a 115-person-strong organization that sets up tournaments, clinics, and league play throughout the region. The club is locally-based but calls the courts at Walter Reed Community Center home.

The aim is higher than just Arlington or the D.C. area, co-founder Jimmy Brown told ARLnow.

“We are trying to take over pickleball nation, not just here,” Brown said. “When people think of pickleball, we want to be the first organization that comes to mind. From clinics to unique events… to pop-up tournaments to individual lessons, we want to be the brand that people think about three years from now when they think about pickleball in this country.”

Brown said about 80% of the current members are from Arlington or Alexandria, though there are members from Woodbridge, D.C., and Maryland.

Iron Paddles launched about two and half years ago at the height of the pandemic, when a smaller group was playing pickleball “really early in the morning” at Walter Reed, per Brown. They’d play so often and get so competitive that several regular players considered going pro.

“A lot of us… are pretty good players [now] and are trying to eventually get where they can eventually make some money in this sport,” Brown said.

That includes Brown, who lives in the Claremont neighborhood near Wakefield High School. He’s the son of former NFL football player Tom Brown, who played for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s and won multiple Super Bowls. The younger Brown plans to join the senior pickleball tour in five years, when he turns 50.

“[My dad] always said, ‘If you play better competition, it’s going to make you better.’ So, I surround myself with better players than myself… who kick my butt every day,” Brown said.

He’s a school teacher, so he plays early in the morning — particularly in the summers when school is out — and in the afternoon after school is dismissed. He and 15 or 20 other Iron Paddle members can often be found playing into the evening at Walter Reed.

Brown admits he was one of those people who was playing at the community center courts at 6 a.m. last summer. The noise from the courts, mainly the infamous “pickleball pop,” led to some neighbors threatening legal action late last year.

He says he “completely understands” if some people got mad about being woken up to the thucks and pops of pickleball. The group has since moved to other courts for their early morning ritual, though he wouldn’t say exactly where.

Once the clock strikes 8 a.m., however, residents have to deal with the noise, Brown said.

“You chose to live by a rec center. After 8 a.m., it’s free reign. I’m sorry,” he said. “Turn the TV up a bit louder and shut your windows. I’m sorry. I know that sounds harsh, but people are trying to work out.”

As for the accusations of bullying children earlier this year, Brown said that is not true. Whenever kids have wanted to come to play basketball or tennis, the pickleballers he knows are “accommodating” and sometimes move the nets so they can play.

“If it’s super packed, now that’s a different story,” he said. “But nobody’s ever been belligerent and nobody’s ever been nasty.”

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Pickleball being played outside at Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

(Updated on 2/14/23) The fight over the new pickleball courts coming to Walter Reed Community Center appears to have escalated.

In a flyer that’s now being disseminated around the neighborhood, opponents are leveling accusations of “bullying of our children by pickleball players,” “public urination on playground and sensory garden,” and causing “excessive continuous noise from dawn to 10 p.m. every day.”

If more pickleball courts are added, it will even be more of a “public nuisance” the flyer says. It does not go into greater detail about the accusations.

“Arlington County is giving away our rights to Walter Reed Community Center (WRCC) to build a dedicated Pickleball Cluster,” it reads. “Current issues will get worse with conversion of 3 tennis to 9 pickleball courts.”

Anti-pickleball flyer distributed to residents who live near the Walter Reed Community Center (photo courtesy anonymous)

The flyer also lists “large crowds,” “parking issues,” and “tennis and basketball hijacked” as problems. It asks residents to fill out a Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation survey, attend upcoming Columbia Heights Civic Association meetings, and be at this week’s public meeting to make their concerns known.

In November, Arlington residents approved a countywide bond referendum that included spending $2 million to add more pickleball courts in the county including at Walter Reed Community Center.

The plan is to convert the current outdoor tennis courts to pickleball courts by adding netting, pavement, lighting, signage, fencing, and “sound reduction measures.”

The basketball court, which currently is stripped for pickleball, will be converted back to its original use.

The project’s completion is still at least two years away. Feedback through online surveys and community meetings will be gathered throughout 2023, per a recently-published county timeline. Construction could begin in the spring of 2024 with early 2025 as the current goal for it to be completed.

A group that is calling itself the “Walter Reed Neighborhood Group” is behind the flyers, ARLnow has learned. It’s a core group of about 10 to 15 nearby residents who have handed out about 600 flyers around the neighborhood, we’re told.

The group is not trying to start an “all-out war” on pickleball, a number of neighbors said in a conversation earlier today. They are disputing the process that resulted in the decision to build a cluster of courts near their homes.

“The county has… created the situation and they’re putting pickleballers against local residents,” neighbor Armand Ciccarelli told ARLnow.

He and the others in the group said that the court score assessment process DPR used to determine that Walter Reed was the best option for the cluster of courts was “flawed.” Walter Reed Community Center beat out several other options by a single point, per the county-produced chart.

“Arlington is ramping up [the building of courts] and throwing them in South Arlington,” Ciccarelli said. “The county is ignoring us.”

The construction of nine new pickleball courts won’t simply attract county residents, neighbors said, but players from across the region.

“By having a large cluster here, we are attracting pickleballers from all over the place,” Jacquelyn, a group member and a pickleball player herself, said. “This will no longer be a community center for the community, it will become pickleball central for the entire DMV area. And our little neighborhood can’t handle that.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with the group and its assessment of the ills of pickleball.

As the sport has rapidly gained popularity — more than 36 million people played pickleball between August 2021 and August 2022, according to a new report — players have been lobbying localities like Arlington for more courts.

Ciccarelli did acknowledge that the anti-pickleball flyers could be interpreted as inflammatory, but that was a deliberate choice to get more attention. He said that “99%” of locals the group has talked to do not have “any awareness of this project.”

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Pickleball being played outside at Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Local residents can now weigh in on the “future of pickleball” at the Walter Reed Community Center.

A survey was sent out earlier this week by the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation (DPR) asking the community to provide input and feedback about the new outdoor pickleball courts coming to the community center at 2909 16th Street S., south of Columbia Pike.

The dedicated courts will replace the tennis courts that are currently there.

The survey asks a series of questions, some with multiple choice answers and some with a text box, including the survey taker’s “current relationship” with the community center, how often they use the pickleball courts already there, and when they typically play.

There’s also a question that addresses the noise coming from the courts, a prickly topic that has led to threats of legal action.

“Noise is a concern associated with pickleball play,” reads the question. “The County is committed to incorporating sound reduction measures as part of this project. What are some creative ideas to consider?”

Locals have through Tuesday, February 28 to provide the county with their thoughts.

Residents voted in November, as part of the bond referendum, to spend $2 million to convert and update existing tennis courts into pickleball courts across the county, including at Walter Reed.

The plan is to convert the current tennis court area into nine dedicated pickleball courts by adding pavement, netting, lighting, fencing, and other needed equipment. There will also be seating, shade, signage, landscaping, ADA-accessible walkways, and “sound reduction measures.” As part of the project, the basketball court will also be converted back to its original use.

This online survey is actually the “start” of the engagement process for the project, DPR spokesperson Martha Holland told ARLnow in an email.

“The County wants to hear from all stakeholders to create a project that serves the pickleball community while fitting into the community context,” she wrote. “The online feedback form is the first step to gather input to inform concept designs. The County hopes to learn and gain insights on a wide range of issues from uses and user experience, as well as considerations, designs, and demographics – to ensure we’re hearing from as many community members as possible.”

Community meetings are set to be held throughout this year to discuss the project, per a recently published timeline on the county’s website. The first is planned for Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at Walter Reed, Holland said.

There are expected to be additional community meetings and online surveys throughout the year, with several currently scheduled for the spring and summer.

“It is important to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of this project and have a chance to provide input throughout,” Holland said.

With all of this community engagement, construction of the pickleball courts is being pushed back.

Construction is not expected to start for more than a year from now, in spring 2024, per the timeline. Completion is estimated for early 2025, a full two years from now.

In recent years, pickleball has become a hot-button issue in Arlington. The sport soared in popularity during the pandemic, with the county adding more courts to meet demand.

As courts increased, though, so did complaints from some locals about the noise.

When a pickleball hits a paddle, it can often produce a loud pop sound that has become infamously known as “pickleball pop.” This has led DPR to close certain public courts that are situated near homes. At least one court was eventually reopened.

Then, late last year, two citizen groups threatened legal action against the county.

This included a number of neighbors who live across the street from Walter Reed with one resident saying the noise already coming from the courts was “excessive” and “intrusive.” That resident told ARLnow at the time they did not support the plan to build even more outdoor courts.

“It sounds really comical, but when you live across the street from an endless stream of just popping, it’s not funny,” they said.

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Pickleball being played outside at Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

More neighbors are threatening legal action because of the infamous pickleball pop.

A resident living near the Walter Reed Community Center tells ARLnow that the noise coming from the nearby pickleball courts is “excessive” and constant, to the point that that a group of neighbors is “contemplating a lawsuit of our own” against the county.

“Our community center, with its 9 courts, has become ‘pickleball central,'” Ashley, a resident who lives near the community center, wrote to ARLnow in an email. “We believe the excessive playtime that generates a loud, constant popping sound negatively impacts our quality of life and property value.”

ARLnow received an additional call from a nearby resident, reiterating many of these claims and decrying the loud “pop” made when a pickleball hits a paddle.

The eight households involved all live on 16th Street S., across the street from the community center. They have joined together in asking the county to do something about the crowds and noise coming from the pickleball courts, per Ashley. She’s asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons.

In recent weeks, the residents met with Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation, a couple of County Board members, and the Columbia Heights Civic Association to make their concerns known.

So far, discussions haven’t produced the outcome they are hoping for: enforcing court hours, closing some pickleball courts, and reconsideration of plans to potentially add more courts. They believe that the noise coming from the courts is in violation of the county’s noise ordinance.

The group says they’re considering legal action along similar lines to what the Old Glebe Civic Association has discussed, as previously reported by ARLnow.

“None of us want to put an end to pickleball. Everybody has a right to use the park and its services,” Ashley said. “It’s just excessive. It’s loud and it’s very intrusive.”

Earlier this month, Old Glebe Civic Association also began considering legal action due to the ending of a pilot program that had closed a pickleball court at Glebe Road Park. The court’s recent reopening has made the noise issue even “more contentious,” with the civic association’s leadership saying that “a solution short of litigation appears unlikely.”

Ashley said when she and her neighbors read that story, it seemed like confirmation that their situation also would not be resolved without some sort of legal action. Ashley has lived in her home on 16th Street S. for about five years, but it was this past summer when the noise became “maddening.”

Pickleball has taken Arlington — and the U.S. generally — by storm over the last few years. This year, however, the sport seemingly grew beyond the county’s current capacity, prompting a tug-of-war between those who want more pickleball facilities, neighbors concerned about noise, and the players of other sports — particularly tennis — who stand to lose courts to the pickleball juggernaut.

Ashley said that there were times over the summer and into the fall when she could hear the pop of the ball hitting the paddle starting at 5 a.m. and not stopping until 11 p.m — 18 hours a day.

Reading the comments on previous ARLnow pickleball stories, she knows her complaints can seem ridiculous to some, but she insists they are legit.

“It sounds really comical, but when you live across the street from an endless stream of just popping, it’s not funny,” she said.

Ashley and other neighbors met with local parks and rec officials in October, a meeting the department confirmed to ARLnow. The neighbors asked DPR to limit court hours, close some courts to pickleball to allow other sports to be played, and better monitor the noise coming from the courts.

They also expressed their disappointment in not being formally consulted about the possibility of new courts coming to Walter Reed.

“We were not consulted as a community, nor do we support this plan,” she said.

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