Interest in pickleball continues to rise and is sparking conversation about providing adequate courts in Fairfax County.
In response to requests for more facilities from pickleball players, the Fairfax County Park Authority is soliciting feedback from the community on potential plans for new courts or court lines.
The first site under consideration is Lewinsville Park in McLean. The FCPA presented potential plans to renovate or repurpose the tennis courts there during a virtual public meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 1).
“FCPA has addressed these requests in the past as opportunities presented themselves along routine maintenance,” FCPA project manager Adam Wynn said. “But with the high demand in all court sports and limited resources, there really needed to be a proactive and strategic approach to address these requests in a way that adds pickleball capacity, but also does so in a publicly beneficial and fiscally responsible way.”
The proposed project is part of an ongoing, countywide effort to determine how to address pickleball’s growing popularity as a sport. The park authority released a draft report of its study in September that included the results of an online survey and identified challenges with the county’s existing facilities and options for new ones.
The study recommends two layouts for courts. The first layout entails a shared-use court that is dual striped for tennis and pickleball. The second is a dedicated court for pickleball only.
Wynn said community responses identified McLean as a location that could support four or more pickleball courts to facilitate more drop-in play, where players arrive at courts without advance reservation.
In the greater McLean area, FCPA has two shared-use courts at Westgate, McLean Central, and Linway Terrace parks. Additionally, the Spring Hill Rec Center, Providence Community Center, and James Lee Community Center offer pickleball classes.
Lewinsville Park was identified as a viable location for new pickleball courts because it met most of the criteria outlined in the draft report, such as allowing for courts to be grouped together, according to Wynn.
He added that the courts at the park are in need of repair, and improvements could add capacity for both tennis and pickleball purposes.
The park currently has six courts dedicated for only tennis and a practice wall. FCPA is evaluating three options that would all include new surfacing for the courts and retaining the practice wall.
The first option retains all six tennis courts but converts three of them into six shared-use pickleball courts. The second option has four dedicated pickleball courts, four dedicated tennis courts, and one shared-use tennis court that could also serve as two additional pickleball courts.
The third option is for six dedicated pickleball courts and four tennis courts.
During the open comment portion of the meeting, several community participants took issue with the idea of repurposing the tennis courts or sharing them with pickleball, arguing that there are not enough tennis courts in general.
Some pushed for pickleball courts to be constructed elsewhere while utilizing other park or amenity space.
According to Wynn, court use is on the rise in the county, with rental hours for park authority courts climbing 573.7% between 2020 and 2021, though the data isn’t broken down by the specific sport being played.
Comments on the potential project at Lewinsville Park will be accepted until Jan. 7, 2022, after which FCPA will settle on a development option. Emails may be sent to [email protected] or [email protected].
The final pickleball study report is expected to be published in early 2022. If approved, the overall completion of the Lewinsville project is anticipated in summer 2022.
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