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The Forest Scout

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The Lake Bluff Pickleball Dilemma: Still at a Standoff

Photo courtesy of Lake Bluff Park District.
Photo courtesy of Lake Bluff Park District.

Pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport for the third year in a row, far exceeding tennis and other racquet sports. As a result, communities all over the country – including Lake Bluff – have added pickleball courts to their facilities. 

In 2020, the Lake Bluff Park District began teaching pickleball in their gymnasium, and in 2021, tennis courts at Blair Park were permanently converted into pickleball courts in response to the increasing popularity. These courts accommodate general play as well as “intro to pickleball” classes, which teach first-time players about the sport’s rules, strategy, and setup, along with private and semi-private lessons.  

These facilities benefit pickleball players in the Lake Bluff community; however, there have been concerns from others about the noise levels associated with the sport.

Photo courtesy of Lake Bluff Park District.

Pickleball is almost twice as loud as tennis, reaching about 70 decibels, comparable to the sound of a garbage truck. The audible impacts have raised concern, as many people use the courts as early as sunrise in the summer and as late as 10 pm. The district has received numerous complaints from neighbors, some living directly next to these courts.

Brady Gamrath, a senior who lives about 20 feet from the courts, describes the noise as “so loud it echoes through the house.”

As a result of these complaints, the Park District took action and switched their opening hours from 5 am to 8 am. As many Lake Bluff locals utilize these courts daily, there was frustration from players who, in return, ignored the new start time. As a result, the Park District decided to start locking the gates. 

Further complicating the situation, according to Lake Bluff Villiage Hall, the Park District converted these tennis courts to pickleball courts without going through a permit process with the village. As a result, there was no opportunity for the village of Lake Bluff to determine if the pickleball use was appropriate for its current surroundings, including the nearby residents. On the other hand, the Lake Bluff Park District disagrees that a permit process was required for the court conversion. 

Currently, there is a standoff between the Park District, who argues they didn’t need a permit, and the village, who argues that any construction project in the town with significant construction requires going through the village zoning process. 

This issue is still a standing disagreement, causing tension between the Lake Bluff Park District and the village. The past few months have been a continuous battle, attempting to resolve the issue with acknowledgment towards disrupted neighbors and pickleball players. With the village and park district being separate decision-makers, satisfying both ends of the controversy is challenging. 

Moving forward, the village plans to continue working towards resolving this issue.

 

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Kate Rappin
Kate Rappin, Staff Writer
Senior Kate Rappin is a first-year writer for The Forest Scout. She enjoys competing on the high school's Varsity diving and JV gymnastics teams. Outside of school, you'll catch her babysitting, spending time with friends and family, and hanging out with her dogs, Bandit and Ollie. Kate is excited to get more involved with the school by writing for The Forest Scout.
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