Injustice on the Court: Park Authority Shuts Down Pickleball Against Residents’ Injunction

The Controversial Decision at Kendale Woods Park

Fairfax County, Virginia – In a move that has sparked significant community backlash, the Fairfax County Park Authority has proceeded with its decision to shut down pickleball activities at Kendale Woods Park in Annandale. Despite an injunction filed by local residents to halt this action, the Park Authority has remained resolute in its stance, leaving many players disheartened but determined to fight on.

Early Morning Confrontation

On the morning of June 14, Park Authority staff and contractors arrived at the courts before 7 a.m., only to be met by a small group of dedicated pickleball players staging a sit-in. Although the crew managed to remove the pickleball nets, their plans to power wash and reline the courts were thwarted by the players’ peaceful protest.

Residents Locked Out

Later that night, between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m., the Park Authority took further action by installing a lock on the fence, effectively barring access to the two shared courts for both pickleball and tennis. This lockout occurred just one day after a group of pickleball enthusiasts filed an injunction with the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The injunction seeks to prevent the removal of the pickleball courts until accurate noise measurements specific to this park are conducted and potential sound mitigation efforts are explored.

The Noise Complaint

Park Authority Executive Director Jai Cole informed the players that the decision to remove pickleball from Kendale Woods Park was prompted by a noise complaint from a nearby couple. Despite efforts to engage in dialogue, the couple declined to meet with the pickleball players or Park Authority staff to discuss a compromise. Their home, situated closer than the recommended 250-foot distance from the courts, is separated by a 50-foot tree buffer.

Community Mobilization

Since the announcement of the court closures in early May, neighborhood pickleball players have mobilized to save their beloved courts. They have written letters to Cole and other county officials, attended Park Board meetings, and launched a petition that has garnered 545 signatures to date. The players argue that the Park Authority’s actions violate an agreement with the Broyhill Crest Recreation Club, which deeded the property for community use in 1983.

Suspicions of Alternative Motives

The players are perplexed that a single complaint could lead to the closure of a park facility and suspect there may be other underlying reasons. Some speculate that the decision might be linked to an outside group paying the county to use the courts for tennis lessons. In March, DMV Tennis Academy posted signs advertising tennis lessons at the park, although their website no longer lists Kendale Woods as a location. Park Authority spokesperson Ben Boxer, however, stated, “To my knowledge, there is no tennis group seeking to provide tennis lessons.”

Official Responses

Public officials contacted by the pickleball players have largely refrained from intervening, citing the matter as a Park Authority issue. Mason Supervisor Andres Jimenez acknowledged the vibrant pickleball community in Fairfax County and the challenge of balancing court demand with neighborhood well-being. He expressed hope that the Park Authority would enhance, rather than disrupt, the quality of life in communities where their facilities are located.

Board of Supervisors Chair Jeffrey McKay described the decision as “very unfortunate” and one he disagrees with, especially given the county’s efforts to expand pickleball opportunities. He noted that the decision falls within the authority of the FCPA, as delegated by the Board of Supervisors through a Memorandum of Understanding.

Community Outcry

Following the court lockout, pickleball player Sarah Wysocki wrote to McKay, urging him to override Jai Cole’s decision, accusing Cole of failing to act in the community’s best interest. Margery Gehan, a resident of Broyhill Crest, also reached out to McKay, seeking a meeting to discuss retaining the pickleball courts. Gehan criticized the Park Authority for not engaging with the Broyhill Crest Community Association and emphasized the importance of pickleball in fostering community cohesion.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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