Above: Right now, pickleball players set up a portable net on the basketball courts at Academy, just as this foursome did on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
The town got a state grant for 2 new courts on Academy Field
Some residents of the Hill neighborhood, including several direct abutters of Academy Field, have registered their displeasure with the town’s plan to build two new pickleball courts next to the two existing basketball courts there.
The town applied for and received two recreation grants last fall – the smaller of the two is for the pickleball courts ($100,000 – $75,000 from the state, $25,000 from the town). The other grant is to redo Eldredge Field and the basketball courts there ($300,000 from the state, $100,000 from the town). You can read about both HERE.
The Town Council approved the grant applications back in November, a necessary step since both require town money to complete. The town learned in May it had gotten both grants. The next step, Community Services Director Andy Wade said at the time, would be to draw up formal plans. The town has two years to complete the projects.
It was in June that abutting neighbors started to ask questions about the proposal, citing noise, the need to remove trees from the site, and the elimination of green space, among other concerns. Wade told EG News in November the town could move the trees; the plan includes additional trees between the courts and the street. Residents have also cited the plan to erect a chain link fence around the courts, and expressed frustration that they had not been consulted ahead of time.
In July, they formed Friends of Academy Field (FOAF) and have scheduled a meeting Monday (8/1) in the EGPD Community Room, to which town officials have been invited.
In a letter to members of the Town Councilors dated July 22, residents Ed and Carolyn Cure, who live on Spring Street nearby the field, said their objections weren’t about pickleball. Rather, they said they didn’t want to lose green space and the trees there, and they expressed concerns over pickleball decibel levels in a dense neighborhood like the Hill. Pickleball is played on the basketball courts now. The courts have pickleball lines and players will bring their own nets. Dedicated pickleball courts would likely be more inviting to players and, if they are built according to the original application, would be closer to residences than the basketball courts.
Wade said this week he was looking forward to the meeting Monday with the intent to provide clarity.
“We are looking at options…. I think it’s important to understand the entire time the plan that’s being passed around and discussed was a conceptual one. Once we get the award, we revisit the site and all the factors.”
He added, “A lot of things have happened since that application…. We want to be good neighbors.”
The meeting Monday night at the EGPD Community Room begins at 5 p.m.
Author’s note: While not an abutter, I live a block away from Academy Field.