DIRK SHADD | Times (2022)
The courts are filled as pickleball games get underway last year at Crescent Lake Park in St. Petersburg. Residents of Colony Cove urged the New Port Richey City Council to reconsider the plan to replace basketball courts in a nearby city park with pickleball courts.
New Port Richey: Neighbors urge council to pass on pickleball
Age-restricted Pasco community does not want the sounds of the popular sport as their background noise.
Times Staff Writer

Pickleball may be all the rage across the country, but residents of one 55-and-older community near New Port Richey are not rolling out the welcome mat.

Residents of Colony Cove this week urged the New Port Richey City Council to reconsider the plan to replace basketball courts in a nearby city park with pickleball courts. They said they wish they had known that was in the works, even though they live outside the city limits.

They learned of the change when bulldozers showed up recently to begin renovations at the Meadows Dog Park.

Pam Buck bought her place in Colony Cove 23 years ago, thrilled to find a small slice of peace near the Pithlachascotee River and the parklands nearby. Now she worries that the sound of game play will ruin that.

“I just don’t want to lose all that serenity, my old Florida experience for the few times I have left here,” she said.

Wendy Nash’s mobile home backs right up to the site. When she learned that the city planned pickleball courts on the city side of her lot, “we got very concerned,” she said.

She said she didn’t think that the same young people using the basketball courts, “keeping them off the streets,” as she put it, would be as interested in pickleball. The game, which combines elements of tennis, pingpong and badminton, involves hitting plastic balls back and forth with hard-sided paddles.

“The greatest concern is the volume due to the close proximity to our homes,” Nash said, noting that legal cases have arisen in other communities over the sound of the pickleball paddles hitting the plastic balls. She said she also is concerned about the sound of players interacting on the courts, shouting orders at one another or using profane language when shots are missed.

“Won’t that be fun to hear from our bedroom and living room windows?” Nash said.

Nash said there is some evidence the sound of pickleball can aggravate some medical conditions, which she said could be a concern for a neighborhood full of older residents.

“Give us a chance to live our lives peacefully,” she said.

Her husband, Eddie Nash, agreed, pointing out that their bedroom window is just 35-40 feet from the area where the courts are planned. Studies show detrimental impacts by pickleball courts within 300 feet. His own health issues sometimes require him to rest during the day.

“That may be gone now and I had no say so,” he said.

Neighbor Pat Hamby said noise levels attributed to pickleball at the distance Colony Cove would be to the courts would not be acceptable, creating interruption that could range from annoyance to hearing loss.

“Pickleball is only a game but the stakes for the residents are much higher,” Hamby said.

The noise concern with the city’s pickleball expansion isn’t new, said city resident Bertell Butler. He said that from his experience working at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center, when pickleball courts replaced tennis courts there, residents complained about the increase in noise.

The changes at the park to replace the basketball courts with pickleball courts were a part of the city’s long-term master plan for parks and had been discussed in the city’s newsletter, said City Manager Debbie Manns.

Given the community concerns that have now surfaced, she said she plans to meet with residents to talk about the project soon and explain plans to mitigate any issues with sound or lights. She said she would report back to the council.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at bbehrendt@tampabay.com. Follow @bbehrendttimes.