Ocean City Today

City Council approves pickleball additions

One court will be dedicated to sport; tennis courts will be restriped for dual usage
By Katie Tabeling | Sep 21, 2017
The racquetball court at Gorman Park will be demolished to make room for a pickleball court. The three-sides court will be rebuilt in a slightly different orientation.

(Sept. 22, 2017) The Ocean City Council approved the final design for pickleball courts at Gorman Park on Monday, after Recreation and Parks Department officials considered residents’ concerns and relocated it a second time.

One pickleball-only court will be placed between the tennis and racquetball courts, which will require the latter to be demolished and rebuilt. The tennis courts will be restriped to allow for pickleball play on them as well. The cost of the project is expected to be covered by an $115,000 state Department of Natural Resources grant.

The Recreation and Parks Commission had struggled to find a location for the courts after residents complained about the noise aspect of the proposal.

Councilman Wayne Hartman, who chairs that body, said the new design was a good compromise between the parks department plans and residents’ concerns.

“The residents are very passionate about Gorman Park, and people are adamantly against building the courts closer to houses,” he said during Monday’s council session. “In building one court, we can keep the developed area of the park tight where drainage is better.”

Proposals for the pickleball court were reconfigured at least twice before the design was presented to the full council. Original ideas were to build two courts on the east side of the tennis courts, but neighbors feared that would create excess noise.

Following a public meeting in August with nearly two dozen park-area residents, resort officials repositioned the courts in the open space west of the playground. That option was scrapped after department personnel saw the extent of the impact the 3,600 square-foot court would have on the space.

The parks commission met with and handful of residents on Sept. 12, and they agreed the best option would be to put a pickleball court between the racquetball and tennis courts.

“I like it, if we have to do it,” Linda Bunting, who lives on 136th Street, said during last week’s meeting. “People bring their kids out to the open space and play baseball, put their blankets out and have picnic lunches and paint.”

Councilman Dennis Dare, however, opposed demolishing and then rebuilding the racquetball court.

“It seems like a waste of money just to relocate it for a new facility. But if you do, it makes more sense to move it to the east side, closer to the road,” Dare said. “The noise would be contained and … by moving it there, you’d make it more visible and reduce activities that go on there that shouldn’t be. Then you’d get the second pickleball court.”

Council President Lloyd Martin, who also serves on the parks commission, defended the compromise solution.

“We’re trying to work with the community, and doing this keeps the open space open for future growth or space,” he said. “Realigning the [racquetball court] seems more feasible and that’s the general consensus among the residents.”

The new pickleball courts design was approved 6-1, with Dare dissenting.

“Hopefully, we won’t have conflicts between tennis players and pickleball players, but we can send Councilman Hartman to referee,” Mayor Rick Meehan interjected.

“I said it at the [Recs and Parks Commission] meeting, and I’ll say it again: I will never support adding anything else to Gorman Park,” Hartman chuckled.

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