Berlin Exploring Pickleball Court Options

Berlin Exploring Pickleball Court Options
Berlin's tennis courts are pictured. File Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Town officials discussed the possibility of adding pickleball courts to Berlin’s recreational opportunities at a parks commission meeting this month.

Public Works Director Jimmy Charles told the Berlin Parks Commission last week he’d been conducting some preliminary research regarding adding pickleball courts to Stephen Decatur Park. While commission members liked the concept, several said they didn’t want the courts to take the place of the existing tennis courts.

“We have invested a lot into those courts,” commission member Patricia Dufendach said. “With the lights and everything, I’m not really in favor of switching over.”

Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said residents started expressing interest in pickleball right around the time the Stephen Decatur Park tennis court renovation was completed in 2018.

In recent months, Charles has reviewed pickleball courts elsewhere and considered how they might be installed in Berlin. He said he thought the best way to add the new courts would be to convert two of the existing tennis courts into pickleball courts. That would leave two tennis courts and add six pickleball courts.

“If we were to want to get it, we’d want to start thinking about budget,” he said.

Charles added that he wasn’t sure how much use the tennis courts got but that he had seen the popularity of pickleball growing, particularly in Ocean Pines.

Bohlen said she was reluctant to give up two tennis courts and ask if there was a way to just convert one tennis court to a pickleball court. Charles said that was likely possible but that it would only provide space for two or three pickleball courts.

“I don’t want to take away those beautiful tennis courts right now,” Dufendach said.

She said she’d like to see feedback from citizens regarding their interests.

Bohlen added that one of the handball courts could be converted instead of a tennis court. Several commission members agreed, noting that the handball courts tended to be a space for graffiti and smoking.

“I’ve never seen anyone there except for kids who look like they’re up to no good,” commission member Laura Stearns said.

Bohlen pointed out that the tennis court renovation had involved grant funding so she would need to reach out to the granting agency regarding whether the courts could be converted. Charles said he would measure the handball courts and look into the possibly of installing pickleball infrastructure there.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.