Tennis players gain the upper hand while pickleball complaints rise in Newport

NEWPORT – Tennis enthusiasts are now fighting 1-Love pickle Players for space on the court as the city enforces tighter restrictions on pickleball court opening times following multiple noise complaints from residents bordering Hunter and Vernon parks.

“It’s like a dressing room” Hunter Park Butter Warren Garner said at the City council‘s regular meeting on Wednesday. “(The noise comes) through the windows, it comes through the doors, and there’s really no place in the house to avoid it.”

The City Council at its regular meeting Wednesday night unanimously passed a new ordinance that will incorporate the recently restricted hours of operation for pickleball courts at Hunter and Vernon Parks into the city ordinances, making it easier for the city to enforce the hours. Tennis courts would also get the same limited hours under the new regulation until the council voted to remove them from the restriction.

Newport has the only dedicated pickleball courts in Newport County at Hunter Park, although more are in the works.

Newport has the only dedicated pickleball courts in Newport County at Hunter Park, although more are in the works.

In addition to restricting pickleball court hours, the ordinance also prohibits pickleball players from temporarily pulling pickleball courts on other tennis courts. Both restrictions are in response to noise complaints from park neighbors.

“Most of the discussions have been about the impact of pickleball on the parks and the sharing of the courts, so I think it makes sense for me to only impose a restriction on pickleball courts,” Councilman Jamie Bova said.

Even though Recreational Division of Newport Public Services introduced stricter hours of operation for Newport’s pickleball and hybrid tennis courts in 2021, city officials recently became aware of players ignoring the restricted hours of operation and garnering noise complaints from nearby residents. Additionally, employees have received complaints from pickleball players who have temporarily installed lines at tennis courts across the city, as the sport’s popularity has overcrowded Newport’s few pickleball facilities.

Pickleball Growth: More pickleball courts in the works in Newport County as demand increases

“I think Newport is one of the first communities to have these pickleball courts, and you know, we’re learning over time and we may have to remove them from communities as we go along,” Councilwoman Lynn Underwood told Ceglie said, “We’re working to make things better.”

Newport resident Mona Barbera, whose home borders Hunter Park, thanked the City Council for considering the ordinance. She said the noise issues she experienced were unique to Pickleball, both in the way the game is played and in the reactions of the players themselves.

“The culture is similar to the stands, but in this sport the shouting comes from the players,” Barbera said. “It’s like in bleachers, where people feel completely free to express their joy and despair in a throaty verbal production.”

Pickleball in Newport: The increasing popularity of pickleball in Newport is causing problems for the neighbors and the town

School committee nominee Kendra Muenter, along with Newport-based tennis player Amy Machado, came forward to thank the city council for sparing tennis courts from ordinance restrictions due to the noise differences between the two sports.

However, two pickleball players objected to the ordinance. Portsmouth’s Matthew Yates said it was unfair to impose a restriction on pickleball because tennis also creates noise and suggested the city consider a different enforcement tactic to reduce noise. Another Newport resident, Libby Gill, said the courts are overcrowded and they need more courts away from residential areas.

Recreation Administrator Erik Reis stated that the current standard distance to reduce noise exposure for residential communities significantly reduces plots for pickleball courts due to Newport’s dense population. City manager Joseph Nicholson said the city has been watching for opportunities but is waiting to see what land may become available after the Pell Bridge realignment project.

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“I don’t want to sound joking here, but it took about five years to find a spot for a basketball court,” Nicholson quipped. “We manage what we have.”

This article originally appeared in the Newport Daily News: A curfew has been imposed on pickleball players in Newport following noise complaints

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