GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – There’s a court battle happening in Greenville, and it’s not happening at the courthouse. It’s outside at one of the City of Greenville’s Recreation and Parks facilities.
The city recently announced they were converting three tennis courts into eight pickleball courts at Elm Street Park.
“On any given day, when you drive by here there are people out here playing or waiting in line to play,” said Lettie Micheletto. “It’s hard to get a good court in prime time.”
Greenville tennis players say finding a court is now even harder.
“It was packed out here, people waiting for tennis courts left and right because these courts aren’t playable anymore,” said Beau Young.
On March 6, City Council approved funding to convert the courts at Elm Street Park. To get to this point, the Greenville Recreation and Parks Department said they did surveys on the need for more pickleball courts.
“Last fall, we started the comprehensive recreation and parks master plan,” said Don Octigan, Greenville Recreation and Parks Department director. “From that, we had public engagement, we had over 500 surveys that were submitted. All the citizens who provided responses, pickleball was the sport of highest need that we offer and we’re not meeting the need.”
They also said they found a need when they did studies on outdoor spaces.
“A consulting firm did an inventory of our parks services and from the inventory, they compared it to the national parks standards as far as communities our size here in Greenville,” said Octigan. “From that, they showed a need for additional six to seven pickleball courts.
“At the time, we had one at Peppermint Park. It also showed we had a surplus of tennis courts for a community of our size.”
To meet the growing need, they had two options.
“We looked at a new facility and a new facility with designing, site plan, small restroom facility, lights and within a park it would cost about $750,000,” Octigan said. “Through this research, we’ve also looked at other communities who are converting tennis courts to pickleball. That would estimate about $75,000.”
After looking at their resources and different parks, they decided on the conversion at Elm Street Park.
“We’re doing our best to work that balance to provide a sport for both tennis and pickleball and it’s a tough balance,” Octigan said. “This decision was not made lightly.”
Tennis players said they hope in the future that balance doesn’t forget about their sport.
“If you don’t have courts, you’re going to lose tennis players,” said Henry Hostetler. “We have nothing against pickleball, we just want tennis.”
Another concern from some community members is the noise made from pickleball with a church and neighborhood next door.
“Now that there will be 32 pickleball players out here on this course, as opposed to four, I would like to be assured that there would be a prohibition on Sunday play so that the church won’t be affected,” said Scott Dance.
Octigan said they’ll listen to those concerns.
“If anyone has any concerns when they get active, call our office,” he said. “If we do need to put restrictions on the courts for certain reasons, we can. Lights cut out at 10 p.m. We can monitor and work with community.”
The pickleball courts are already open at Elm Street. Octigan said the contractor was able to start early, which is why everything is complete.