Pickleballers Serve Their Case to Borough Council

By Eric Englund | Sep 11, 2019
Supplied Photo

Beach Haven — Pickleball enthusiasts filled the Beach Haven Borough Council chambers at its meeting Monday night to request three additional courts at the Nelson Avenue recreational complex.

While the borough has committed  $295,000 for improvements to the complex, borough officials made no specific commitment to the group’s request, saying they needed to make the work fair to both tennis and pickleball players.

Andrea Jones, who played a major role in bringing the sport to Beach Haven in 2016, said pickleball is not just for seniors or retired members of the community; it appeals to millennials in the workforce and children as well. She noted that at the U.S. Open Pickleball tournament in Naples, Fla., in 2018, there were players from age 10 to 91 competing.

“It’s a multigenerational sport, along with being gender neutral, where men can compete alongside of women and the older can play with the young,” said Jones. “It’s for families, it’s for everyone.

“We should look at pickleball as a racket-sport cousin to tennis, not a competition. Let’s look to the future and show our kids and grandkids how multigenerational this addicting sport is. In a few years, it’s predicted that eight million people in American will be playing. Currently, there are 3.5 million and a few years ago there were 2.5 million playing.”

Jones also said the group donated $1,000 to the Beach Haven First Aid Squad, proceeds from last month’s pickleball tournament in Beach Haven. Last year, the group donated $1,000 to Coastal Volunteers in Medicine. “We want to give back and help the community,” she said.

Former borough Councilman Don Kakstis said that when the pickleball courts opened in 2016, there were approximately 2,000 players. This past summer, the number of players more than doubled at 4,300. “If I could describe pickleball in one word, it would be ‘fun,’” he said.

David Mike, a retiree who coordinates play on the pickleball courts, said the need for more courts is critical. On some days, he said, more people are waiting to play than the actual number of people playing on the six courts.

“And they’re playing on a surface that used to be a roller rink and it has cracked concrete,” said Mike. “When play is over, people can go to our restaurants or shop at our stores. Pickleball has brought a lot of people into town, and that is good for Beach Haven.”   

But Kathy McLaughlin said the influx of pickleball players resulted in parking and noise problems. “On the day of the tournament, someone used a bullhorn before 8 in the morning,” she said. “You should take this all into consideration for the vacationers, those who want to enjoy the Island.”

“You should come up with something where all tennis and pickleball players can compete and have fun,” added Sue Sharkey.

Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said the next step is for an analysis by Borough Engineer Frank Little. “Then we’ll go out to bid, and we’ll have to make a determination what to spend once the bids come back,” she said. “Hopefully, we can come up with something fair to everyone.”  

— Eric Englund



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