It may be fall, but plans for a small complex of pickleball courts have blossomed like a spring bouquet.
Public Works Department Director David Manugian informed the Select Board on Monday that the Fields Partnership has recommended modification of the tennis courts on Railroad Avenue, near John Glenn Middle School, so they will primarily accommodate pickleball.
Realignment of boundary lines and other infrastructure will result in four to six pickleball courts in the complex, Manugian said. He indicated that the changes could be finished before winter, including temporary solar-powered lighting.
The area will still be able to accommodate tennis, the director added, during designated times. But the arrangement will flip-flop the current primary and secondary uses. There is also a complex of tennis courts across the street near the high school; pickleball games take place there as well.
Pickleball is a paddle game played with a perforated plastic ball over a net on a badminton-sized court. Popularity continues to grow, particularly among older residents, and earlier this year the Recreation Commission endorsed the concept of a specific pickleball area and asked the Fields Partnership to evaluate potential locations.
The Fields Partnership is an interagency unit, including Recreation, Public Works, the Town Manager’s office, and the school Athletics Department. Manugian told the Select Board the group considered grading, drainage, electrical service, winter maintenance, tree removal, proximity to residents, and safety when rating potential sites.
Town Manager Sarah Stanton outlined reasons for the ultimate choice:
- The preference from players is for a central location, but there isn’t available land without compromising current programs.
- The middle school courts are close to parking and away from residences.
- Permanent lighting will be installed if special town meeting on Nov. 4 approves a community preservation expense.
- Newly-constructed courts would require a capital investment of $350,000 to $500,000 when factoring land clearance, drainage, and power.
“This is a great meet-in-the-middle infrastructure option that gives players dedicated space and not requesting such a large capital investment,” Stanton said. She applauded the efforts of the Fields Partnership, particularly Director of Athletics Keith Mangan and Recreation Director Josh Smith.