Pickleball is on the plate for the Port Jefferson Country Club, and while bids still have to come in, village officials said courts in the village proper that were previously considered are currently off the table.
In previous years, some residents called for pickleball courts at other places in the village. Local Port Jeffersonite Myrna Gordon was one who pleaded for such a sport to be accessible in the village.
She said restricting the courts to the country club has severely limited the number of people who could use them.
“Most people don’t realize that we stand alone up there.”
— Stan Loucks
“Why would you charge village residents for this recreational program?” she said in an email. “No fees should be charged to any village resident for use of the now being built pickleball courts.”
Landscaping has already started at the country club just west of the tennis courts on the left-hand side of The Waterview building. Despite calling the landscaping and removal of bushes and trees “environmental devastation,” she asked why there wasn’t more consideration for a pickleball court next to the basketball courts near Rocketship Park or in the Texaco Avenue Park in Upper Port.
Stan Loucks, the vice mayor and liaison to the country club, said in a phone interview Jan. 24 that the village originally intended to modify the basketball court off of Barnum Avenue and paint lines for pickleball with removable nets available for certain times when not being used for basketball. However, that idea came under “considerable opposition” from people who wanted it to be maintained for children’s use.
Gordon had been one of those critics, writing in a letter to the editor it was “eliminating a space where culturally diverse people come to play pick-up games,” adding the space was already highly utilized. She instead asked why pickleball could not be built next to the basketball courts, but Loucks responded, saying space was a major consideration.
Gordon, in previous letters to the Port Times Record and in talks to the village board, had suggested placing the court structure at the Texaco Avenue Park, which was recently constructed along with the neighboring parking lot.
Loucks said there was no room for such a court at the park, and it would also take redrawing up plans that were already approved.
The penned-in court complex going in at the country club is measured out to be 64 by 116 feet for three pickleball courts, though a normal-sized, regulation court is only measured at 20 by 44 feet. The Texaco park contains a small play set and basketball court, along with a walking path and some spare seating.
“No fees should be charged to any village resident for use of the now being built pickleball courts.”
— Myrna Gordon
Pickleball is cited as one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. It’s played on a smaller court than tennis and uses paddles instead of rackets to volley a plastic ball back and forth across asphalt courts.
Bids are supposed to come back for the pickleball courts Feb. 6, and potential contractors have already done a walk-through of the property. Loucks is waiting for those bids to come back on a project that could cost anywhere between $85,000 and $128,000, which also includes partially completed landscaping at the country club, at a cost of several thousand to the club itself.
The rest of the funds, the trustee said, would have to be bonded for. Most likely, since the country club cannot issue bonds, the village would apply for the bond and then the country club would use its funds to pay it off. A similar agreement was worked out when the country club installed a new irrigation system for the golf course, which cost around $2 million, or just over the total amount of the club’s entire yearly budget.
The pickleball courts, Loucks said, are a way of hopefully generating more revenue for the country club.
“Most people don’t realize that we stand alone up there,” he said. “We’re trying to make end’s meet — we’re hoping pickleball brings in some additional revenue.”