Town To Offer Pickleball Instruction and Programming at Mead


'Hammer Mike' Chen of New Canaan on the pickleball court.

The Board of Selectmen during its most recent meeting approved a contract for pickleball instruction and programming at Mead Park.

The elected body during its May 21 meeting voted 3-0 to compensate Steve O’Connell for pickleball instruction, following heavy use of Mead Park’s courts since opening in 2021.

“This $13,164 will cover us through the springtime for our programs,” Parks and Recreation Director John Howe said. “With these programs, they’re all cash positive. We bring in a little bit more than we pay. So, it shows that people are registering and we’re happy with that.”

The pickleball courts have become a staple in New Canaan, and Board members said they were confident in the return on investment for the program.

First Selectman Dionna Carlson and Selectmen Steve Karl and Amy Murphy Carroll voted in favor of the compensation.

Asked the amount the town could expect to get back, Howe said, “It’s an 80%-20% split for most of the programs. That changes a little bit with the number of people at that time.”

The 20% goes back into the Parks and Recreation Department.

The popularity of pickleball has surpassed paddle tennis in New Canaan, officials have said.

Carlson said, “I think people love it.”

Howe said the town is at a point now where it’s “a fine line between too much instruction compared to open play.”

“Is there enough?” he said. “Do we have enough courts?”

Pickle players have suggested adding four additional courts in Waveny.

New Canaan resident Michael Chen, known on the pickleball courts at Mead Park as “Hammer Mike,” is co-founder of the National Pickleball League

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