Rec Commission reviews pickleball, progress at Reich tennis courts

A few “modest” changes to existing pickleball days and hours, including opening up the Piedmont Middle School courts for some after-school time during the week, could be approved at November’s Piedmont Recreation Commission meeting, commissioners said Wednesday night.

Opening up the middle school courts on some weekdays is one of four recommendations from the rec commision’s pickleball subcommittee expected to be put to a vote in November. The others are changing middle school pickleball hours on Sundays, from 2 to 4 p.m. to 1 to 4; extending pickleball hours at Beach Elementary School on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.to 1 p.m., instead of ending at 12:30 p.m.; and pursuing possible formal pickleball instructional programs in Piedmont .

“The Recreation Department is already looking into that,” rec commission Chairman Steve Roland said at Wednesday night’s monthly regular meeting.

The recommendations, Roland said, came after a public meeting earlier this month where several public comments were offered. Several written comments were also received, he said.

The days and hours for weekday play at the middle school, if that idea is approved, have not yet been established.

Pickleball has taken Piedmont by storm over the past couple of years. Essentially a scaled-down version of tennis, pickleball has become especially popular with seniors, an expanding demographic. The city’s three courts — at Beach Elementary, Hampton Field and the middle school — host approximately 165 regular players. The city has partnered with the Piedmont Unified School District to renovate the hardcourt surfaces at the middle school courts, which officially opened Sept. 7.

Most notably among residents living near the Beach courts, there were complaints about noise, including that created by the sound of paddles striking balls that echoes off the nearby concrete walls of the Oakland Avenue bridge.

Roland said Wednesday night that a survey of approximately 35 people in that area showed that pickleball-related noise is essentially a non-issue.

“Almost nobody was saying it’s a problem,” Roland said.

Some other suggested actions that won’t be pursued, at least for the time being, include reservation signups for pickleball court time; including pickleball courts in the longterm Linda  Beach Master Plan; and making pickleball court striping at Hampton Field more vivid and distinct, and easier to see. That latter idea got pushback from tennis players there, whose own court lines are adjacent to those of the pickleball courts. Darker pickleball striping, Roland said, could adversely affect tennis play, Roland said.

“We’re trying to find a happy medium,” he said.

The next Recreation Commission meeting is scheduled for Nov. 20.

Progress at Reich tennis center  

Progress on the ongoing refurbishing of the tennis courts on Vista Avenue — now known as the Corey Reich Tennis Center — is moving along, acting Recreation Director Erin Rivera told the rec commission Wednesday.

A new water fountain with a bottle filler and new spectator bleachers and players’ benches have already been installed, Rivera said, and reconstruction of the entryway will be done as soon after the end of the high school girls varsity tennis season ends as possible. The season ends Nov. 18, Rivera said.

New LED lighting is scheduled to be installed during summer 2020, she added.

The Piedmont City Council had already committed enough money to make basic fixes to make the Recreation Center’s tennis courts to make basic repairs when, in November 2018, it agreed to help launch, along with the Piedmont Recreation Facilities Organization and local tennis players, a more robust long-term fundraising campaign for major improvements and ongoing maintenance. 

The Corey Reich Tennis Center was formally christened in August.

Reich is a 2004 graduate of Piedmont High School, where he played on the varsity tennis team. In 2007, while a  student at Middlebury College in Vermont, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive nervous system disease; Reich now uses a wheelchair.

After graduation, he came back to Piedmont, and is now an assistant coach for the successful Piedmont High varsity tennis teams.

The city and the PRFO have made long-term commitments to maintain and upgrade the courts and related facilities. Said Rec Commissioner Glyn Burge Wednesday night, “All the courts have been ‘sold’ to sponsors, which is great.”

Added Rivera, “It’s also not too late to donate.”Reach Sam Richards at sam.richards4344@gmail.com

One thought on “Rec Commission reviews pickleball, progress at Reich tennis courts

  1. Again thanks to Exedra for its good pickleball coverage. A few minor corrections:
    – The Linda Beach neighbor comments noted above were made in opposition to pickleball before pickleball was being played. There was an active attempt to prevent pickleball use of the Linda tennis courts. My understanding is that since we started playing in May, there have been virtually no complaints.
    – Currently Middle School hours are Sunday 1pm to 5pm and it appears they will be cut back an hour to 1pm to 4pm.
    – Linda Beach is currently Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am to 12:30pm and will be extended to 1pm.

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