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Plenty of places for pickleball around North Allegheny area

The growing popularity of the racquet sport pickleball has increased demand for places to play in the North Allegheny area.

There are many places to play pickleball in the North Allegheny area, and the sport's growing popularity has increased the demand for playing locations.

Last spring, Devlin Park in McCandless opened pickleball courts by resurfacing and modifying former tennis courts for pickleball play, according to John Bojarski, Town of McCandless public information officer.

Town council members received multiple suggestions to add pickleball courts in the last few years, which aligned with the town's 2019 comprehensive plan for additional recreation opportunities.

Two tennis courts still remain next to the pickleball area.

Players in Franklin Park can use the three courts at Blueberry Hill Park for pickleball, which are open year round.

Pickleball courts in Allegheny County's North Park near its tennis courts on Tennis Court Road, off Walter Road, are free and open to the public.

North Allegheny School District has incorporated pickleball into the physical education curriculum at the three middle schools and Intermediate High School, according to David Schmidt, who chairs the district’s health and physical education department.

The district plans to add pickleball lines to the tennis courts at Marshall Middle School, with expected completion by the start of the 2024-25 school year, according to the NASD communications department.

Sound concerns

Despite its popularity, the sport does come with a bit of controversy.

According to www.picklepow.com, pickleball is twice as loud as tennis, with the sound of the ball hitting the racquet described as a loud “pop” with a higher pitch and frequency compared to tennis. Last summer, the pickleball courts at Old Orchard Park in Franklin Park were closed due to noise issues.Before the closure, Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and other borough officials spent three years gathering information, including talking with pickleball players and residents surrounding Old Orchard Park, according to an Aug. 4 letter to the Franklin Park community.

An extensive sound study found that the noise from pickleball violated the borough’s ordinances, according to information presented at a May 17 council meeting.

The borough attempted to use soft pickleballs to reduce noise, but that option was not popular among players who continued to use regular pickleballs.

The courts at Blueberry Hill Park are not as close to homes as those at Old Orchard Park.

Studying suitable locations for adding pickleball courts will be part of the update to the 2015 Comprehensive Recreation, Park and Open Space Plan, with community input during the process.

Franklin Park is seeking a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnerships Program grant to update the plan, according to borough manager Rege Ebner Jr.

“We anticipate that the process will lead to decisions about the need for more pickleball courts and suitable locations ,” he said. “The process will also result in specific site plans for each park that identify appropriate facilities and infrastructure to be included in each park. The Orchard Park courts will be repurposed for other activities.”

Get ready to play in McCandless

Playing pickleball at McCandless’ Devlin Park has not been much of a problem.

“The town has only received one noise complaint from a resident,” said Bojarski.

Reservations will be required for three out of the four courts at Devlin Park, and can be made through McCandless’ new online reservation system starting in April. McCandless residents will have the option to reserve any of the three courts for an hourly fee up to 72 hours in advance.

The fourth court will remain available on a first-come, first-served basis, Bojarski said. A rental schedule will be accessible online for everyone to see, and as long as a court is not reserved it will be open for walk-in play.

McCandless is also offering beginner pickleball lessons starting at the end of April, as well as other beginner/intermediate-level sessions, Bojarski said.

Marshall does not have any specifically designated pickleball courts. However, the tennis courts at Warrendale Park, off Mt. Pleasant Road, have pickleball lines painted on them so they can be used for both tennis and pickleball, according to Julie Bastianini, township manager.

Early in the afternoon on March 13, the pickleball courts in North Park were already full of players.

While Renee Lee of Bellevue played with Susan Parey, a resident of Ohio Township, Mark Seftas of Moon was patiently waiting outside the courts when he asked if they could turn it into a foursome. Although he arrived alone, he found a willing player within seconds.

Seftas has been involved in playing for four years.

“It’s enjoyable and I don’t injure myself as much as I do with other sports,” he said.

However, he does understand the frustration of a homeowner living next to a court:

“If I lived within 200 yards of one, it would probably bother me.”

The increasing popularity of the racquet sport pickleball has raised the demand for places to play in the North Allegheny area.

“If I lived within 200 yards of one, it would probably bother me.”

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