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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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Arlington’s pickleball community hosted players from Iceland at the Walter Reed Community Center (photo courtesy of Ruth Ellis)

If conquering Arlington wasn’t enough, pickleball is now headed to Iceland thanks to two locals.

This past weekend, Arlington-based pickleball coaches Ruth Ellis and Helen White hosted a group of Icelandic tennis players at the Walter Reed Community Center to kick start a collaboration between Arlington’s pickleball community and Tennishöllin, a tennis club in Kopavógur, Iceland.

In a return volley, Ellis and White are set to head to Kopavógur next month to lead several pickleball workshops for the general public there.

The hope is to start a pickleball craze in Iceland, much like what’s happened here in Arlington.

“So many people I’m meeting have been to Iceland. So, there’s a lot of sport tourism possibilities for a place like Iceland,” Helen White, a leader in Arlington’s pickleball community and a local ambassador for the sport, told ARLnow. “Yes, you want to see the country, but if you’re a pickleball player, you also want to play with local pickleball players.”

The idea for the collaboration with the tennis club in Kopavógur came from Ellis, who was born in Iceland and goes back often to visit family. She’s an avid pickleball player and, while thinking about her next trip home, realized that it could be tough for her to find a game.

I was trying to see if I could play pickleball while I was there, and there’s nobody playing there,” said Ellis, who actually lives in D.C. but plays mostly in Arlington. “There’s no active pickleball scene in Iceland at the moment. To me, that looked like a situation that needed to be remedied.”

While it was popular prior to the pandemic, pickleball has boomed in Arlington in recent years. Courts across the county are often full, with residents asking for more. The Department of Parks and Recreation has dedicated $2 million to build more courts and restripe tennis courts, though it might take some time before those are ready for a match.

However, not everyone loves the game. The sound of the ball hitting the paddle — the infamous pickleball pop — can be loud, so much so that the county shut down a court this summer because the pop sound was annoying the neighbors.

While the game has continued to grow in Arlington and the United States as a whole — with sports stars buying newly-formed professional teams — in Iceland tennis remains the favored paddle sport. But Ellis wants to change that.

She reached out to White, who was game for the project. Then, after emailing “dozens” of Icelanders, Ellis was put in touch with a woman who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Iceland. In turn, that person paired Ellis with the owners of Tennishöllin.

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A tennis court at Glebe Road Park was restriped for pickleball (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

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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Soldiers spent four years in Arlington during the Civil War, and county residents can get a small taste of what they went through next weekend.

The re-enactment event Civil War Camp Day will show how soldiers lived by walking through encampment displays, practicing military drills and trying on Civil War uniforms. It takes place May 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Walter Reed Community Center and Park (2909 16th Street S.)

Union troops arrived in Arlington in 1861 on the orders of President Abraham Lincoln. For the next four years, tens of thousands of northern soldiers manned the Arlington Line, a series of fortifications and camps that stretched from Rosslyn to the Pentagon.

A schedule of the day’s events is below:

  • 10 a.m. – The camp is open to visitors, with displays on how soldiers lived in camp, what gear they used and the music they listened to.
  • 11 a.m. – A presentation on Arlington’s role during the Civil War, especially as a center for training.
  • Noon – Cooking and a presentation on what soldiers ate.
  • 1 p.m. – A presentation on Arlington’s role during the Civil War, especially as a center for training.
  • 2-4 p.m. – The camp is open to visitors, with displays on how soldiers lived in camp, what gear they used and the music they listened to.
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Virginia DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive (photo via Commonwealth of Virginia)News that the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles office on S. Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington will be moving to Fairfax County next year has stirred up controversy in both locales.

DMV and elected officials in Fairfax are planning a community meeting on Thursday to discuss the DMV office’s move to a busy shopping center along Columbia Pike, reports the Annandale VA blog. Locals there have expressed concern that the new DMV will cause traffic and parking problems in the area.

In Arlington, meanwhile, some residents are unhappy with the idea of having to trek out to Fairfax County to get a drivers license. In order to address the concerns of Arlington residents, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) will be hosting a town hall meeting with DMV officials this weekend.

From a press release:

Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) is hosting a town hall meeting with Senior DMV Officials to discuss the relocation of the DMV Customer Service Center on Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington. The meeting will take place on Sunday, December 6th from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at the Walter Reed Community Center. The meeting will be an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions and learn more about the decision.

WHO: Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Senior DMV Officials

WHAT: A town hall meeting to discuss relocating the DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive

WHEN: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

WHERE: The Walter Reed Community Center’s multipurpose room (2909 16th St S, Arlington, VA 22204)

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Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, so fans of the holiday have a number of opportunities to attend events over the next few days. There are numerous events for adults at the area bars and restaurants, but here is a list of some family friendly activities for participants of all ages:

  • Halloween Harvest (5:15-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24) — Buyers and Renters Arlington Voice (BRAVO) is hosting a community gardening event. There will be face painting, a treasure hunt, pumpkin decorating and healthy snacks fresh from the garden. Attendees can learn more about community gardens at the free event, which will be held at Whitefield Commons (106 N. Thomas Street).
  • Fire Pit of Horror (6:00-8:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27) — Join Arlington’s WSC Avant Bard at the Lubber Run Park fire ring as performers bring classic horror tales to life. There will be readings of works by Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Costumes are optional, but encouraged. The event is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP online.
  • Douglas Park Halloween Trail of Terror (7:00-9:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 27) — A haunted trail located at 1620 S. Quincy Street in the Douglas Park neighborhood. Attendees are asked to bring canned goods or nonperishable items for donation to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.
  • Trick or Treat with Shirlie (2:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27) — The Village at Shirlington is encouraging patrons to dress up in costumes while enjoying free treats at the restaurants and shops. Several of the businesses will have promotions, face painting, crafts and other activities. A list of all participating businesses can be found online. Entries for the pumpkin carving contest can be dropped off at the Hilton Garden Inn from 8:00-10:00 a.m. on Saturday, and the winner will receive a $100 gift card to One, Two Kangaroo Toys.
  • FALLoween (10:00 a.m-2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27) — Market Common (2700 Clarendon Blvd) will hold its annual free event featuring a petting zoo, face painting, music and trick or treating at some of the businesses. A performance by Rocknocerous kicks off the event at 10:00 a.m. People and pets are invited to join in the costume parade at noon.
  • Halloween Party (1:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27) — Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.) will host a special day for kids ages 3-11. Activities at the free event include carnival games, moon bounces, crafts, a costume parade and prizes.
  • Ghostbusters Viewing (8:00-10:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27) — Take in a showing of the classic movie “Ghostbusters” in the Dome Theater at Artisphere. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased online.

A listing of some pet friendly Halloween activities can be found in a previous article.

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Two family-friendly, Latino-oriented neighborhood events are planned for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the Smithsonian Latino Center and Arlington County’s Tell Arlington’s Story initiative are sponsoring a “family afternoon” at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.).

The afternoon will feature “hands-on activities inspired by Central American ceramis, Mayan dance presentations, live music, storytelling and talks by archeologist Favio Amador about Central America’s indigenous civilization.” The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

On Sunday, a Buckingham community street festival will be held from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. on N. Pershing Drive between Glebe Road and Thomas Street.

The festival will feature music, food, games, raffles, kids activities. Scheduled performers include Amla Boliviana and Luz De Luna.

The event is being organized by the community group BU-GATA, along with various county agencies including the Arlington County Police Department.

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Ever wish you could reenact The Breakfast Club, with you as a friendlier version of Principal Vernon and the club as a group of 15-20 adults with specials needs? If so, this is the volunteer opportunity for you.

The Walter Reed Adult Day Care Center needs a few dedicated, patient and energetic individuals to help start its clients’ day off right one morning per week.

Volunteers will work from 8:00 to 9:45 on Tuesday mornings while the Center has its weekly staff meeting. Volunteers are expected to welcome the clients and serve morning meals.

The Center serves mostly older residents, as well as younger adults with cognitive difficulties. It’s located within the Walter Reed Community Center at 2909 16th Street South.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact volunteer coordinator Randy Feliciano at rfeliciano [at] arlingtonva.us or (703) 228-0958.

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