In this court: Pickleball players. In that court: People who hate the idea. And in the middle: A judge.
It may well come to that in Denver, after a park said it would remove pickleball courts, based on noise complaints from neighbors. Now, a lawyer has filed an appeal with the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation's Advisory Board on behalf of pickleball players.
The news, carried in WestWorld, notes that the appeal cites “arbitrary and capricious actions, directives, orders and public notices" on the part of the park board regarding the sport.
The recent order to shut down the courts at Congress Park for good (rather than just moving them to a new location where noise would not be an issue), caught the attention of attorney and pickleball player Hollynd Hoskins.
Hoskins requested public records from both Parks & Recreation and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, filing the appeal on behalf of over 170 specific citizens of Denver and the more than 6,000 members of the Denver Metro Pickleball Association, Denver Pickleball United, the Lavender Pickleball Club and the Central Park Pickleball Club.
The appeal also claims there is a conflict of interest due to the connection between the Parks and Recreation deputy manager and a construction company.
"I'm also asking the board to step in and find there is a conflict of interest with Scott Gilmore, the deputy of Denver Parks and Recreation and his wife, Stacy Gilmore on Denver City Council as well as their brother and brother-in-law, Gilmore Construction, with its many city contracts," Hoskins told reporters at CBS News.
Originally, the courts were built near a neighborhood; installation took place more than two years ago. During the pandemic, usage of the courts increased, and neighbors began complaining about the noise.
WestWorld notes, “As the complaints got too loud to ignore, Parks & Recreation worked with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment to study the noise. The city found that pickleball regularly violated the city’s 55-decibel noise ordinance, reaching over 70 decibels at fourteen of the eighteen homes by the courts.”
The parks & rec department told residents they would move the courts to an area that would impact residents less.
In the nearby area of Centennial, meanwhile, officials put a six-month moratorium on pickleball courts being built within 500 feet of residential areas. Denver’s officials studied that, and upon measuring the new site for the courts, found homes to be within 300 feet, so it cancelled the projects and began making preparations to remove the existing courts.
It did not sit well with players.
“They pulled a fast one on us, for sure,” Marc Nelson, who leads the Congress Park Pickleball Club, told WestWorld. “To remove it without having plans in place to build more courts is absurd and unacceptable.”
Of course, noted WestWorld, the pickleball players are not entirely innocent. Parks & Recreation has had several issues with the Congress Park Pickleball Club, including disputes with members who installed personal equipment on the courts and held an unsanctioned tournament sponsored by a tequila brand.
Expect to hear more on this issue, as other parks and HOAs study the prospect of installing courts for pickleball, now the fastest-growing recreational sport in the country.