Southwick, MA, is poised to seriously upgrade its pickleball facilities if a new proposal is approved later this month.
“Everyone Has Been Asking For Them”
Cindy Sullivan, Director of Southwick Senior And Recreational Operations, says, “Everyone has been asking for them.”
Enthusiasts currently have to manage with two temporary courts – one situated behind the Town Hall and the other on a basketball court.
Tape has been used to mark the lines, and the Parks and Recreation Commission provides a temporary net. Despite the rudimentary setup, Sullivan says the courts are busy and don’t take long to be booked out.
Cliff Clark of the Westfield News reports how Select Board Chair Doug Moglin and Sullivan have been discreetly working on securing a permanent home for pickleball over the past few months.
Moglin disclosed during the Select Board meeting on August 28 that he had engaged in discussions with a couple of experts in pickleball court construction at a Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting earlier this year.
Subsequently, Sullivan obtained a cost estimate from Sport Court Northeast, based in North Andover, to establish two courts in Prifti Park, situated behind Town Hall, and an additional four courts at Whalley Park, located on Powder Mill Road.
Moglin noted during the board meeting that there was ample space to accommodate the four courts at Whalley Park:
“It’s a great spot and shouldn’t be a nuisance to nearby residents.”
Some communities have complained of noise from pickleball courts near residential areas. Massachusetts Pickleball, which operates masspickleballguide.com, has released a noise report acknowledging that pickleball generates more noise compared to tennis.
Proposed solutions include avoiding the construction of courts near homes or schools, implementing sound barriers on court fencing, and using pickleball equipment made from softer materials.
The projected cost for the two courts at Prifti Park is $115,000, while the four courts at Whalley Park are estimated at $208,000. These figures encompass court construction, fencing, and lighting, as stated by Sullivan.
During the August 28 meeting, Select Board member Diane Gale inquired about the availability of the courts behind Town Hall for public use. Chairman Moglin confirmed that they would indeed be open to the public. Gale mentioned that she was aware of the answer but wanted to ensure that anyone watching the meeting was informed.
Sullivan did express her intention to occasionally reserve the courts behind Town Hall for Senior Center programs if they are constructed, offering seniors an additional fitness activity.
Sullivan also mentioned that she had received a substantial number of letters expressing support for the court project – a testament to pickleball’s incredible popularity.
Two Separate Proposals
To fund the courts, the Parks and Recreation Commission plans to make two separate proposals to the Community Preservation Committee for the necessary funds. The Select Board unanimously approved endorsing the CPC application, which will be formally submitted at the CPC’s mid-September meeting.
The CPC reviews all applications and makes recommendations, but the final decision on whether to allocate Community Preservation Fund funds lies with the Town Meeting.
As yet, the Select Board has not scheduled a Special Town Meeting for the fall. If funding must wait until the Annual Town Meeting next May, it could delay the opening of the new courts.
Southwick is a town located in Hampden County, Massachusetts, with a population of 9,232 as of the 2020 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.
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