Exciting News for Pickleball Players

4 people playing pickleball
A pickleball game on the proposed courts, from April 2022 ~ Image, JMcCT (c) 2022 all rights reserved

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.

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Dereck Blackburn
October 1, 2022 8:58 am

Would have been nice to get HALF A MILLION DOLLARS for a dog park. How many people play Pickleball in our town vs people who own dogs that would use this resource. I’m baffled.

S Cutter
October 1, 2022 11:50 am

You didn’t read the article…. The $350,000 to $500,000 expense is what it would have cost for newly constructed courts. Instead, the proposal is to re-purpose existing courts at a much lower expense.

Dereck Blackburn
October 1, 2022 5:32 pm
Reply to  S Cutter

My point is – that would be the amount under consideration if they were to build new. Its a lot for a (somewhat) seasonal sport. I did read it but I can see how my flippant comment could be misinterpreted.

David Hill
October 8, 2022 10:15 am

I won’t go into the various groups that play pickleball, I play mostly in the Bedford Rec. Group. They routinely have 20+ players per session. 4 sessions per week. That’s 80 individual playing sessions per week for that group. I am aware of two organized groups and two private groups. I am sure there are more. Quick calc. is easily 200+ playing sessions per week. Of course we only play seasonally, that is spring, summer, fall, and winter. Playing in the Rec. Group only requires a paddle and a shovel. I’ve been paying Prop. Taxes in Bedford for 23 years. Down at the courts, they call me newbie. Quick calc. tells me pickleball players have paid 25+ million in prop. taxes over the years. Probably a lot more. What we are asking for could be accomplished at JGMS in a weekend. I love dogs. But I suggest that you are easily baffled.

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