Town officials on Tuesday approved about $200,000 in contracts for the widely anticipated pickleball court installation project at Mead Park.
The five pickleball courts that will replace the hard-surface all-season public tennis court at Mead should be ready for a late-June or early-July opening, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.
The project includes replacement of a tennis backboard adjacent to the existing court and will see that practice area raised so it’s on-grade with the new pickleball area, Mann told members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting, held via videoconference.
“Pickleball is probably one of the fastest-growing sports in the country,” Mann said.”We are behind our neighbors as far as court installation.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of a $195,504 contract with West Haven-based Hinding Tennis Courts, LLC.
The Parks & Recreation Commission heard a presentation on the project last month. Mann said that since then the town fielded concerns from a resident regarding noise from the planned courts, as well as location and proximity to neighbors.
The all-season tennis court that is to be converted into pickleball courts is located near the western edge of Mead Park and the Metro-North railroad tracks, behind the colonnade (it’s not one of the eight clay courts at Mead). The nearest neighbor is on the far side of the tracks, about 200 to 250 feet away, Mann said.
The town in order to ensure there’s no issue with noise is “looking at oversizing the fence posts,” Mann said.
“The new fencing that is going in, so that we can actually place screening on it, that will help out with noise abatement,” he said.
Mann added, “We did look at other locations in town and we feel this is the best location, given that it is already located in a tennis facility.”
The Recreation Department will use the same online registration system it has for tennis to allow New Canaan residents to reserve court time for pickleball, Rec Director Steve Benko said. An attendant who oversees the clay courts at Mead will also watch over the pickleball courts.
During a prior Board meeting, Corbet had asked about the funding for the pickleball courts installation, inquiring whether it had been a line item in the town’s capital plan or included under something else. Mann said during that meeting that two years ago, town officials decided to use part of the budget for reconditioning the clay courts at Mead for the pickleball project.
“So it was included in the ’19 fiscal budget,” Mann said at the March 23 selectmen meeting. “The Board of Finance actually made an amendment to the bond resolution to include pickleball in I believe September or October of ’19 to include ‘pickleball’ in that resolution as it was formulated.”
Pickleball is a “paddleball sport” of two to four players “that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis,” according to Wikipedia.