Though they’ve been open less than two years, the pickleball courts at Mead Park have become so popular that the town is looking at ways to get more parking spaces into the lot that serves the facility, officials said last week.
All five courts were in use at lunchtime on April 12, Parks & Recreation Director John Howe told members of the Parks & Rec Commission during their regular meeting that night.
“It’s caused a parking issue down there,” he said during the meeting, held at Lapham Community Center.
The warmer weather and busier season at Mead—clay tennis courts, Mead Park Lodge, baseball and playground visitors—are expected to exacerbate the parking crunch, commissioners said.
The parking configuration is “going to have to change,” Parks & Rec Secretary Francesca Segalas said.
Howe noted that town officials have plans to change the parking area, which also serves the tennis courts in the northwest area of the park.
“I don’t think it’s going to be enough to solve all of the problems,” he said. “All of the sudden, instead of having the maximum of four people out on one court and maybe one person practicing with the wall, it’s five courts, four people each. It’s busy.”
The comments came during Howe’s regular update to Parks & Rec, and in response to a question from Commissioner Keith Richey regarding the status of the pickleball courts.
They’re open for use, Howe said, noting that the sooner people obtain a pass, the sooner they can reserve courts (see this website for information).
“This year we really only closed [the pickle courts] for one day when there was a little bit of snow on them,” Howe said.
Commission Chair George Benington asked Howe to update the appointed body regarding the parking project at a future meeting.
“Because certainly as the summer months come, the spring-summer months, the problem will only magnify itself,” Benington said.
During the same discussion, Benington asked whether the town had looked at offering residents an “all-encompassing” pass that would cover pickleball as well as paddle tennis and regular tennis and the Steve Benko Pool.
Howe said such a pass would be “a little problematic.”
“We looked at having an all-encompassing racquet sports pass, and the problem is the way the seasons run,” he said. “Tennis and paddle are different seasons, so that’s why we decided we’re going to keep them separate right now. I think it would be very problematic with the pool since it’s a separate fund. It would take some work to figure that out. But it’s definitely something we can look at.”