Noise complaint could put Board of Health in a pickle(ball)

The people gathered at last Thursday’s Board of Health meeting didn’t know much about pickleball, except that it seemed to involve two rackets.

One used on the court and the other in their ears.

“My windows were shaking,”Lawrence Richmond, who lives in the Great Island section of the Pinehills,  said about a match between highly skilled competitors played on the tennis court he lives near. The sport, which is similar to tennis, is played using a plastic ball.

Richmond said he went to the building inspector’s office to complain, but they declined to get involved. “We don’t want to get into a big shooting match,” over the sport, Richmond said. But he thinks the Great Island Condo Association needs to go through proper channels before allowing the sport to be played. One issue may be the fact that, according to Richmond, several members of the condo association board play the sport. He noted that a sign on the courts reads “tennis only.”

Richmond, who did his own decibel tests, said that an environmental impact study should be done. He suggested that acoustical fencing be installed and that special low-noise balls be used.

One of Richmond’s neighbors, Matt Bisceglia, agreed action needed to be taken. “It’s really aggravating to hear pickleball,” he said. Both he and Richmond noted that when they bought homes near the tennis courts, the possibility of pickleball being played there didn’t come up.

Health Inspector Karen Keane said an inspector did visit the court and determined the noise didn’t exceed town bylaws. Richmond disputed whether the visit actually occurred during a pickleball match. Keane, apparently the only person in the room who played the sport, said it was.

Another neighbor, Dennis Baker, expressed frustration with the process. “It violates the noise regulations, everyone in town passes the buck,” he said, “they violated the law.”

Chairman Stephen Striar said the board could only order an inspector to investigate if there was a complaint about the noise. “I think we have a complaint,” said Keane, who suggested she visit the courts with the building inspector during a match.

Getting everyone to meet and work out a solution was the best option, Striar said. The board voted to invite everyone involved to a meeting on July 12.

A call to Tania Skrinnikov, the Chairman of the Great Island Condo Association Board of Directors was not returned by deadline. Another board member, Bob Ferioli, declined comment.

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