The Town of Huntington is aiming to serve up four refurbished pickleball courts in Melville next month, part of $3.5 million in park improvements planned throughout the town.
Town officials said they are seeing a demand for more courts as the sport has grown in popularity in recent years, with several municipalities offering courts and classes to address the craze.
“We can’t build courts fast enough,” said Town Supervisor Ed Smyth. “But, also, there’s a limit to what resources the town can put toward one particular interest. We’re doing everything we can reasonably do to satisfy the demand of pickleball player.”
The town in October will begin refurbishing four pickleball courts at Whitman Park in Melville and relocate them to an area near a parking lot on the south side, said Cable Todd Jamison, director of parks and recreation for the town. The courts will be situated north-south at the request of players to accommodate the rising and setting of the sun. They will also be placed 250 to 300 feet away from the nearest homes to cut down on the pop-pop-pop sound of a plastic pickleball striking a wood paddle; the sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong.
The town plans to spend $290,000 in Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement Fund money for the refurbishment.
There are already 10 dedicated pickleball courts in the town, which some residents say are not enough to keep up with interest.
Town officials said all tennis courts in the town have the ability to be transformed into a pickleball court. They did not have the number of tennis courts in the town available immediately.
George Gottschalk, 74, of Huntington, who plays three times a week at several town parks, has lobbied the town board for more pickleball courts.
He said renovations at Whitman Park fall short.
“I would like a complex with eight courts,” Gottschalk said. “Eight, or more, dedicated courts could be split up between advance, beginners and intermediate, that would help with demand.”
There are four pickleball courts at Terry Farrell Park in South Huntington, three lighted courts at Veterans Park in East Northport and three courts at Sweet Hollow Park in Melville.
The town next year plans to install four to six new pickleball courts at Otsego Park in Dix Hills.
Town officials are also contemplating transforming underused ballfields into pickleball courts at Heckscher Park, Jamison said.
One town resident, however, is not keen on the town's plan to add or convert existing courts to meet the demand for pickleball courts.
T.R. Francis, who lives next door to Veterans Park in East Northport, where a concrete volleyball court was converted to pickleball courts, said town officials are capitulating to accommodate certain residents to the detriment of other sports.
“I just think it’s outrageous they are spending taxpayer money to change tennis and volleyball courts to accommodate the demands of one group of people,” Francis said.
“The goal is to get a healthy balance with all athletic interests and activities throughout the town,” Jamison said, adding, "we’re not favoring anyone.”
Other towns are also trying to accommodate those who have caught pickleball fever. The Town of North Hempstead in July opened 14 new pickleball courts at Michael J. Tully Park.
As the game sweeps across Long Island, it has not come without controversy.
Last month a Suffolk judge threw out a lawsuit filed by an East Hampton Village couple who sued the village to stop “noisy” pickleball courts from being added to a village park.
Where to Play Pickleball in Huntington
- Terry Farrell Park in South Huntington
- Veterans Park in East Northport
- Sweet Hollow Park in Melville
- Courts that are shared between tennis and pickleball include Centerport Beach, Elwood Park and Gardiner Farm Park in Greenlawn